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IIHIBI Hlli " 











This book is not intended to deal with the technical 
political details of the Simon Report, but rather to 
consider the causes of the resentment in India to-day 
against Great Britain which have led up to the present 
deadlock. For this resentment exists very widely 
among the educated classes, and it is growing deeper. 
The Commissioners have done painstaking work, but 
they have failed to meet Indian public opinion on 
its most sensitive side. The main reason for this lies 
in their not clearly appreciating what the National 
Movement has already accomplished under the inspi- 
ration of Mahatma Gandhi. For the awakening of the 
masses under his leadership has brought about a new 
India which is seeking by its own inner urge to find 
self-expression. It can never be forced back into an 
outworn and discarded mould. To fail to deal ade- 
quately with such a national upheaval as this, affecting 
millions of human lives, is almost like acting the play 
of Hamlet with the character of Hamlet left out. 
For, now at last, this new force is coming in like a 
flood, not only in India but all over Asia; and those 
who fail to reckon with it are like children building 
castles on the sand which will be washed away by the 
next tide. 

During the last twelve years of the history of modern 
India, Mahatma Gandhi has been by far the greatest 
personality dominating the situation. In his political 



ideas he is the strange figure of a moral revolutionary 
essentially non-violent in character. By his own 
temperament and imaginative outlook he is peculiarly 
conservative. He idealizes the past rather than the 
present. His whole heart is with the village folk, and 
he loves to call himself a farmer and weaver. His 
aim is the simplification of human existence rather 
than its development along new avenues opened up 
by the use of the machine. He will have nothing to do 
with the latter except for the fulfilment of the most 
primitive needs of weaving and ploughing. 

His extraordinary power to move men cannot be 
understood without a realization of liis supreme trust in 
God to inspire and guide every action that he takes. 
He is a man of faith and prayer, humbly dependent 
upon divine aid and seeking by divine grace to keep an 
inner heart of purity and love, unstained by sin. To 
find God and to be found by Him is the one goal that 
is set before him. 

In many of these aspects he is poles apart from 
Lenin, with whom he has been compared as the 
awakener of a whole rural people and the creator of a 
new national being. The one remarkable likeness 
between them lies in their volcanic energy of person- 
ality surging up from the very depths of their nature 
with ever new creative urge. They have both been 
able to fashion millions of human lives according to 
their will. Sun Yat-Sen in China had the inner power 
to do the same, but not to the same degree. It is remark- 



able that the three "village" areas of the world India, 
China, Russia have each been remoulded by the 
revolutionary force of a great personality in one and 
the same generation. Such an event, on a scale so 
immense, has probably never happened in the history 
of the human race before. It reveals the greatness of 
the present epoch. 

Man is truly spirit. It is the spirit that quickens. 
Mahatma Gandhi has been able to appeal directly 
to the living spirit in man. How this has happened in 
India will be shown in outline throughout the chapters 
which follow. During the greater part of his life he 
had ardently supported the British Government 
whether in India or in South Africa. He believed that 
it stood for racial equality and racial justice. Only 
after "Amritsar" was this faith shaken. 1 Even to-day, 
while non-co-operating with the British administra- 
tion in India, he continues to pay high tribute 
to British personal character. Wherever he has felt 
the administration to be wrong he has fearlessly 
spoken out and also expressed his own convictions in 
action. For every Englishman he has a sincere regard. 
Towards individual English men and women he 
cherishes a very deep affection. He still numbers 
among .them some of the truest friends he has in the 
world. It should not be impossible to come to terms 
with such a chivalrous lover of truth and non-violence. 

In the light of what I have here tried to explain, the 
1 See Appendices I and III. 



reason for the failure of the Simon Report becomes 
more clear. The Commissioners at one time came 
very near to the heart of reality in India. They even 
acknowledged the unifying power of the National 
Movement. But at the critical moment of decision, 
instead of looking forward far enough and wide 
enough to strengthen by their own recommenda- 
tions all that was progressive, they turned their 
faces back towards reaction and division. 

They saw quite clearly the evils which would 
follow, if they gave way to the insistent demands 
that were made for separate electorates. They realized 
fully the mischief of the arbitrary rule of the Indian 
Princes. They understood the selfish policy of the 
great landlords eager to keep their peasants in sub- 
jection. They watched how the tiny privileged body 
of Europeans was seeking to extend its own special 
privileges. All this must have sickened them at heart, 
just as it disgusts every thinking Indian patriot. 

On the other side, they considered very anxiously 
indeed the new National Movement under the moral 
leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. The boycott annoyed 
and troubled them; for they had come out with very 
good intentions. But they did their utmost to over- 
come their irritation. In one very important respect, 
they were able to break through their reserve. For 
they expressed in their Report their warm admiration 
for the Women's Movement. Like a breath of fresh 
air, they felt its influence sweeping through the dark 


chambers of religious bigotry and outworn social 
custom. The Youth League, straining impetuously 
forward to take the path of open violence, if Mahatma 
Gandhi's influence were withdrawn, also attracted 
their attention. They saw its implications and how 
potent a force it might be for good if rightly directed. 

Yet quite inevitably they turned aside. With the 
relentless urge of fate, they were driven from one 
fortified position after another, back for the most 
part to those vested interests which claimed their 
first attention. It would have required a political 
genius of the highest order, in such circumstances 
as these, to have been able, across all the interven- 
ing barriers, to grapple with the one salient fact, 
that in Mahatma Gandhi's personality alone was 
that spiritual alchemy to be found which could 
fuse the old with the new, the medieval with the 
modern, and thus lead to a united Nation. 

What is needed in Great Britain, to help us out of 
our present mental confusion about India, is that we 
should try to feel from our own hearts what the 
Indian people, as a subject race, are feeling. We 
should put ourselves in their place, as the world of 
mankind all around takes new form and shape, and 
they themselves are forced to remain a "dependency" 
of Great Britain. We have to follow out to its conclu- 
sion the golden rule of life which teaches us to do to 
others as we would wish them to do to us. The more 
we try to take this attitude, the more clearly we shall 



see that to appeal any longer to a past convention 
of "dependence" is entirely out of the question. 
Wholeheartedly we must take our stand on their 
side in the cause of freedom. When put to this 
vital test, the Commission fails to satisfy enlightened 
Indian opinion. 

Let me give two incidents which have revealed to 
me with a flash of light much of what Indians are 
feeling. When I was in Tokyo with Rabindranath 
Tagore, the Japanese newspapers attacked him as the - 
"poet of a defeated nation". The words went to his 
heart with a stab of pain; but he rose above them and 
wrote The Song of the Defeated. In this poem he 
described his own Indian people as the Bride whom 
God woos in secret : 

My Master bids me sit at the wayside 
and sing the Song of the Defeated : 
For she is the Bride whom He woos in secret. 

Such a song as this is not unlike the refrain of the 
Magnificat. But what a depth of suffering lies behind 
the words ! 

Another vivid memory is that of a conversation, 
some years ago, with Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, who 
had served long and faithfully as a member of the 
Viceroy's Executive Council. When I met him in 
Allahabad, after his return from England, he was 
almost desperate in his pessimism. He had seen Lord 
Birkenhead, and the impression he had received was 
that Great Britain was determined still to hold India 



in subjection. After leaving England he had gone on 
to Turkey under Mustafa Kemal. When he spoke to 
me about Asia Minor, his eyes flashed. He had wit- 
nessed a miracle of transformation wrought by the joy 
of freedom. "Charlie," he said to me, "when will 
your country realize the wrong that she is doing to 
us by keeping our very souls in subjection?" That one 
word "souls", which he emphasized, made me wince 
as he used it. 

I do not agree with him, as this book will show, in 
his pessimistic outlook. He had not fully realized, 
when he spoke to me some years ago, what a trans- 
formation was taking place owing to Mahatma Gandhi. 
He was still looking to the British administration to 
accomplish what it could never do. But he was right 
in his opinion that the continuance of the policy of 
subjection and dependence would only lead to disaster 
in the midst of a world that was being stirred to its 
depths all round by the impact of new spiritual 

We do not understand in our own country what it 
means for a highly sensitive, intellectual, and imagina- 
tive people to be held in such a dependent state as 
India is held in to-day. Even if we ourselves do not 
intend it, the fact that British rule is felt as a bondage 
is now evident. Release from this bondage there must 
be. In this connexion I would call special attention 
to the important statements made by Tagore and 
Gandhi which I have quoted in the Appendix. 


Meanwhile another evil has been creeping insidi- 
ously forward with which the Commissioners have failed 
to deal boldly. It is on the racial side that my own 
anxieties have become greatest of all. For in the 
Colonies and Dominions a racial antagonism against 
Indians has steadily grown until it has become acute. 
What is more serious still, this race and colour pre- 
judice, marking out Indians as inferiors, has reached 
Great Britain itself and has actually begun to infect our 
own social life here at the centre. The outward signs of 
this infection are still only faintly marked; and what 
I have said may be challenged by those who have not 
yet observed it. But if the noxious fever develops, not 
only abroad but at home, then I fear there will be much 
less hope of friendship with India in the future. For 
it is on this racial issue that the East is very rightly 
most sensitive of all: and India is the intellectual 
leader of Asia. The mind of India is turning away 
from caste and race distinctions to the one universal 
aspect of humanity. She will never endure at such a 
time to remain submissive as a subject nation and to 
be treated as racially inferior. Her whole soul revolts 
against such treatment, and her universal spirit will 

Let me thank those Indian friends who have helped 
me most in fashioning within my own mind the 
thoughts contained in this book. First, and chief 
among these, I would remember one whom in India 
we love to call Gurudeva the poet Rabindranath 



Tagore. His heart is the largest, and his mind is the 
widest, that I have ever had the good fortune inti- 
mately to know in a life of much wandering and 
search. With him I would associate Mahatma Gandhi, 
and one whom I have never met, except in the spirit, 
Arabinda Ghose. I would add the name of one who 
has passed away the dearest friend I ever had 
Susil Kumar Rudra. 

This book has been finished under the kindly roof 
of Mrs. Ellis and her daughter at Wrea Head, near 
Scarborough. In the outer world a wild storm has 
been raging at sea, but within this house there has 
been calm and peace. May the great minds of India 
give to us in this turbulent West some touch of their 
own inner peace. 

I would thank, in conclusion, my friend, Basil 
Yeaxlee, for his valuable help in the final revision of 
this book. 

Julyzi, ^930 
























INDEX 190 




Word Meaning 

Mahatma A title of Gandhi meaning "Great Soul" 

Gurudeva A title of Tagore meaning " Revered 

Srijut (Sjt) A common title equivalent to "Esquire". 


Ahimsa Non-violence. 

Satya Truth. 

Satyagraha Truth-force or Soul-force. 

Satyagrahi One who practises Soul-force. 


Charkha The spinning-wheel. 

Khaddar 1 TT i i_ 

Khadi J Home-spun cloth. 


Swadeshi Belonging to one's own country. 

Swaraj Self-government or Independence. 

Purna Swaraj Complete Independence; often implying 

separation from Great Britain. 
Panchayat The normal village committee of five, duly 

appointed, which manages village affairs. 


Rupee One shilling and sixpence. 

Lakh Seven thousand five hundred pounds. 

Crore Seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds. 



We are living in very hard and critical times both in 
India and in Great Britain. In each country the after- 
math of the European War has left its own evil 
debt of misery and want behind it which cannot be 
liquidated soon. The current of human life, like some 
river that has been silted up in one direction, has 
abruptly changed its course and begun to flow in a 
new and unexpected channel. It would be difficult 
to say which country has been affected most. 

In Great Britain, the unemployment figures have 
gone mounting up, year after year, without any sign 
of abatement. All the various organized efforts of 
different governments in power have proved quite 
unable to prevent this. In the mining districts of 
South Wales and in the cotton manufacturing districts 
of Lancashire the distress caused by unemployment 
has been most acute; but it is also widespread in 
almost every part of England and Scotland. At last it 
has forced itself upon the minds of thoughtful people 
as one of the most alarming features of these post-war 
times, appearing to indicate a weakening of the whole 
economic structure of Great Britain in directions that 
may lead to disaster. No true lover of humanity can 
fail to appreciate the serious loss it would be to the 
world if those high resources of thrift and industry and 
integrity in business, which have hitherto upheld 
Great Britain's place as a peace-loving and progressive 


nation, were to show signs of permanent decline. 
Among the British people themselves the old vain- 
glorious, boastful attitude of a bygone age has almost 
vanished and a chastened sense of inner suffering, 
hard to be borne, has begun to take its place. 

During the same period wherein this change has 
been coming over Great Britain, the distress in India 
itself among the very poor has painfully deepened. This 
again has been due in the first instance to the after- 
effects of the World War. I have been living among 
the poor in that vast country for half a lifetime, and 
have seen in recent years this misery continually 
increasing. The prolonged agony of war shook the 
whole fabric of Indian village life as it did that 
of urban Britain. It has caused everywhere immense 
upheavals. Though in certain districts some temporary 
advantage was gained, owing to the shifting of current 
market values, nevertheless the sharp rise in prices, 
especially of cotton cloth, was immediately felt by the 
poor; and acute misery was caused which I witnessed 
with my own eyes. It needs to be remembered that 
many millions in India are constantly living very close 
to the starvation limit. If we include the women and 
children, these pitiably half-starved, half-clad people 
can hardly number fewer than fifty to sixty million 
souls. The mind becomes bewildered as it tries to 
realize in individual units such a degree of suffering as 
this. People in Great Britain, who are facing their 
own unemployment problems, need at the same time 


to show sympathy towards the Indian people, who 
have to bear the intolerable weight of their own 
poverty and suffering with an almost superhuman 
patience. For hitherto one of the greatest stumbling- 
blocks between the two countries has been the lack of 
sympathy and understanding. The newspaper Press 
on both sides has been partly to blame for this; but 
intelligent interest, along with a much wider and fuller 
exercise of imagination, could do much to overcome 
initial difficulties. 

Perhaps the severest strain of all in India, since the 
war, has been experienced by the educated classes. 
The hard, grinding penury of their daily lives, utterly 
unrelieved and unrelievable, has to be witnessed in 
order to be appreciated. In spite of their education, 
whereon their families, living under the joint family 
system, had built such high hopes, there has seemed 
no possible means of obtaining suitable employment. 
To my own personal knowledge, within the area 
where I have been working, whole joint families 
have sunk to ruin during these post-war days owing to 
the impossibility of finding work. It would be quite 
beyond my power to describe adequately in writing 
the misery I have witnessed, and what I have here 
barely outlined is not based on hearsay evidence, but 
is the result of constant painful experience. 

In the one household of mankind these two countries, 
India and Great Britain, have become to a very great 
extent wrapped up in each other's destinies, and 


therefore intimately interdependent. The delicate 
texture, which binds whole peoples together in a com- 
mon unity, has at these two points of human contact 
become closely interwoven. How all this came about 
will be a matter for consideration later, but the fact 
of it is self-evident at the present time. Therefore 
there appears to me to be a paramount need for that 
which I have earnestly entreated, namely, a greater 
sympathy between these two peoples, who share 
together to-day a common lot of human suffering 
and have somehow to face the future with a new 

There is an Eastern proverb which states that when 
great kings go to war it is the poor grass that is 
trampled underfoot by the armies of both sides. In 
the political struggle, which appears to be impending 
between India and Great Britain, and yet might even 
now be avoided if sympathy and understanding took 
the place of ignorance and strife, we are apt to leave 
out of our calculation the daily, hourly hardships of 
these poor working men and village people on whose 
labour we ourselves depend for our own susten- 
ance. Humanity, though it includes many races, is 
fundamentally and essentially one body. The words 
of the apostle Paul help greatly, in difficult times like 
these, to bring our minds to a proper sense of pro- 
portion and to give them a right direction. "But 
now", he says, "there are many members, yet but one 
body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no 



need of thee ; nor again the head to the feet, I have no 
need of you. Nay, much more those members of the 
body which seem to be feeble are necessary. . . . And 
whether one member of the body suffer, all the 
members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, 
all the members rejoice with it." 

In the criticism and discussion of certain features 
of the Simon Commission Report which will follow 
in this book my one desire throughout will be to keep 
before my own eyes and the eyes of my readers those 
numberless men and women, poor in this world's 
goods, but rich in faith, whose destinies will be decided 
during this coming political struggle. Anything 
approaching the conditions of war, by the use of 
armed troops to repress freedom, must be abhorrent 
to everyone in both countries, and yet we appear 
gradually drifting into something of that kind. To me 
personally the last few months, with their continual 
record of fresh imprisonments, have been filled with 
desperate longing that at the last hour the way of 
peace may be found and bloodshed may be avoided. 
It is possible for me to state humbly and sincerely, 
with perfect truth, that each country has become 
equally dear to me now that I have grown old. For 
although my birth and education were in Great Britain 
and I was taught from my boyhood to love my country 
with a passionate love and devotion, yet it is also true 
that by far the best and happiest part of my life has 
been spent in India, where I have been welcomed by 



The present moment, therefore, is favourable for a 
reconsideration of the principles underlying the con- 
flict between India and Great Britain, in order that if 
possible a solution may be found without further 
delay. For the great danger ahead which everyone is 
feeling to-day is lest, under the tremendous strain of 
events, violence may at last break out in an intensive 
form, and a guerilla warfare, with all the miseries of 
incessant shooting and bloodshed in every part of 
the country, may take the place of the present passive 

"The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over 
them, and they that have authority over them are 
called Benefactors: but it shall not be so with you. 
But he that is greater among you let him be as the 
younger, and he that is chief as he that doth serve" 

ST. L/UKE xxii.-25 




What has brought about the present strained state of 
affairs between India and Great Britain? How has it 
come to pass that, at the time when Great Britain is in 
a chastened mood, India has renewed her previous 
non-co-operation in a more intensive form? 

The original facts were these. A Royal Commission, 
called the Statutory Commission, had to be appointed. 
Its duty was to recommend to the British Parliament 
what changes should be made in the Government of 
India. Lord Birkenhead, the Secretary of State for 
India, instead of appointing a mixed Commission, on 
which Indians and British should serve jointly under a 
British member of Parliament as Chairman, nominated 
a Commission of seven members drawn solely from the 
British race, without any Indian representation, even 
though it was the future Constitution of India which 
was to be the subject of inquiry. It meant that a purely 
British Commission should be the chief adviser of the 
British Parliament as to what the future constitution of 
India should be. 

I know for certain that Lord Birkenhead was very 



strongly warned beforehand against adopting this pro- 
cedure, because it was certain to cause trouble in India. 
It would be regarded as racially insulting thus to ignore 
Indians when their own Constitution was at stake. 

There was also another reason why it would give 
offence in India. For some years past it had been made 
a precedent that in every Commission dealing with 
Indian affairs Indians themselves should have full 
representation. In the Lee Commission and the Skeen 
Commission this had already been done. This was one 
way in which Indian self-government was already being 
forwarded simply and naturally; and it had led to the 
best results, restoring confidence in the good will of 
Great Britain. 

It happened that just at the time of the appointment 
of the Simon Commission race feeling was running 
very high in the East. To ride rough-shod over national 
sentiment and appoint a purely British Commission 
on a subject so vitally and intimately affecting India 
was surely asking for trouble. It was bound to lead to 
disaster. But with an obstinacy that put on one side 
every warning offered and flouted Indian opinion, 
Lord Birkenhead carried through his own fixed purpose 
as Secretary of State and sent the Simon Commission 
to India without a single Indian member upon it. 

Let it be made quite clear that there was not the 
least objection in India to Sir John Simon himself as 
Chairman. On the contrary, it was recognized by 
political leaders that a better choice could hardly 


have been made; and Indians would have been ready 
and willing to work under him. But they were not 
prepared to see their own Constitution reported on 
by British Commissioners alone, as though they them- 
selves had nothing to do with it except in a subordinate 
way. It was freely said at the time that General Smuts 
and General Botha would never have been treated in 
that way when the constitution of South Africa was at 
stake; but, because Lord Birkenhead regarded Indians 
as a racially inferior and subject people he was treating 
them in this manner. 

The ostensible reason given by Lord Birkenhead for 
this wilful departure from precedent only made matters 
worse to sensitive minds in India. He stated that there 
were so many mutually hostile sections that it 
would be quite impossible to choose Indians without 
offending some of them, and therefore it would be 
better to leave them out altogether and let British 
representatives decide these important matters for 
them. This "rubbing-in" of Indian internal divisions, 
which has become especially common among British 
writers and politicians, was felt to be scarcely less 
humiliating than the racial discrimination itself. It was 
a thrust at India's own internal weakness that was 

In reply to Lord Birkenhead it was at once pointed 
out that in their own country Hindus and Muham- 
madans, men of the highest character and unimpeach- 
able integrity, had already held side by side, with 

c 33 


dignity, the chief positions in the State. There had 
been Indians, for instance, holding the office of Chief 
Justice, and an Indian had already been the Governor 
of a Province containing nearly fifty million people. 
There had been Indians Musalmans and Hindus 
alike who had been colleagues of the Viceroy on 
his Executive Council, acting as his intimate advisers 
side by side with Englishmen and Scotsmen. No 
question had ever been raised concerning their in- 
tegrity, nor had there been any difficulty in their 
working together. On the contrary they had won 
universal regard from all sections of Indians and 
Europeans alike. In the same way, at the India Office 
itself there had been the long-standing precedent of 
Indian members serving on the Secretary of State's 
own Council. It was surely insulting to Lord Birken- 
head's colleagues to say that no Indian could be found 
whom Indians themselves would trust as impartial. 
. One further argument was attributed at this time in 
India to Lord Birkenhead. He was said to have declared 
that it was necessary to choose only members of the 
British Parliament. But such an argument as this 
could hardly have been brought forward seriously, 
because there was nothing whatever in the Statute or 
in any previous precedent which would thus limit 
the choice of names ; and even if there had been, Lord 
Sinha was at the time a member of the British Parlia- 
ment. The question was naturally raised in India, 
why he at least was not chosen by Lord Birkenhead 


and thus this invidious exclusion of any Indian member 
avoided. For Lord Sinha's past record was second to 
none for service rendered. He had already been for 
many years a distinguished and honoured member of 
the British Parliament, sitting in the House of Lords. 
In this position he had been appointed Under-Secretary 
of State for India, and had been a member of the War 
Cabinet and of the Imperial Conference. In India he 
had served on the Viceroy's Executive Council, and he 
had also been the Governor of Behar and Orissa. In 
both India and England he was recognized as an out- 
standing figure because of his integrity of character and 
commanding intellectual ability. In addition to this, he 
was acceptable to Indians on religious grounds, because, 
as an earnest member of the reform movement called 
the Brahmo Samaj, he stood above sectarian divisions. 
If chosen as one of the Commissioners, there could 
be no doubt at all that he would loyally help the 
Chairman and his colleagues to the very best of his 

But Lord Birkenhead selected, on purely racial 
lines, what was immediately called in India a "white 5 * 
Commission. In a later chapter I shall endeavour 
briefly to describe how the evil of colour prejudice has 
become virulent as a disease in British India, and how 
racial arrogance has been at the root of most of the 
mischief between the two peoples. To display, there- 
fore, a cynical indifference to Indian sentiment, to 
take no notice of this factor in a situation requiring 



the most delicate handling, to persist, against all 
advice to the contrary, in bringing the racial and 
colour issue into the selection of the Commission 
itself to do this casually and lightly was a gesture of 
overbearing wilfulness which is hard to forgive. If it 
was done in sheer ignorance the action is hardly less 
to be condemned. For it shows that a man who could 
commit it was utterly unfit by temperament to be 
Secretary of State for India. It also reveals, like a 
flash of light on a dark picture, what a precarious 
position the people of India are in, if they are dependent 
every moment, with regard to things vitally affecting 
their future, upon the whim of a Cabinet Minister at 
Whitehall, seven thousand miles distant, who has 
never even visited the country. The result of Lord 
Birkenhead's act has been to leave behind an alto- 
gether unnecessary atmosphere of mistrust and 

It was also, if one only thinks honestly about it, a 
gross injustice. For it is essentially an unjust thing to 
refuse to offer to eminent Indians themselves a share 
in drawing up a Report about the future government 
of their own country. This may be most easily shown 
in the following manner. Suppose, for a moment, that 
the words "India" and "Great Britain" were reversed, 
and that Indians were appointed to draw up a Report 
concerning the future government of Great Britain. 
Would Great Britain ever consent to an Indian Com- 
mission, however wise and learned, reporting upon 



the framework of a new British Constitution without 
any British representative as a colleague? Surely the 
British people would demand that they should frame 
their own constitution. And if we claim this right for 
ourselves, why should we not accord the same right to 
others ? 

It has been necessary to labour the point because it 
is just here where the shoe pinches. Rightly or wrongly, 
it was felt all over India that Lord Birkenhead's act in 
this vital matter was that of a conqueror imposing his 
will upon a conquered and subject people. It was in 
no sense democratic. It was like a racial superior acting 
with arrogance towards a racial inferior. That, at 
least, was how it appeared to every sensitive Indian 
who thought at all about it. It made no difference that 
professions of equality were offered afterwards, and 
devices formed for holding what were called "free 
conferences". The Simon Commission itself remained 
entirely exclusive in its own membership. The initial 
blunder continued with all its mischief. 

There was another incident which drove the resent- 
ment still deeper. The fact that the Labour Party had 
agreed with Lord Birkenhead that Labour Members of 
Parliament should serve on a Commission of this 
unfair and racial character gave to enlightened public 
opinion in India a very grave shock indeed. Lord 
Birkenhead's nature and reputation were well known ; 
but it could hardly be credited that the British 
Labour Party, along with the Liberals, would give 



open sanction and support to Lord Birkenhead's 
policy. For this reason the .news came as a shock 
to politically minded Indians. It has led to a lack 
of confidence in the professions of the Labour and 
Liberal parties ever since. 

When the Commissioners at last set out for India 
they found a difficult atmosphere awaiting them. The 
Report makes only very slight reference to this, in 
guarded language. But the facts were evident on every 
side. In spite of the news which the daily papers in 
Great Britain used to recapitulate week after week, 
telling about the wonderful success of the Commission 
in breaking down opposition, the real truth was that, 
by failing to secure the co-operation even of the 
moderate Liberal group in Indian politics, who had 
stood beside the British Government all through the 
earlier non-co-operation movement, the Simon Com- 
mission never had a chance of success. The very 
persons who could have given the Commission the 
wisest counsel if they had been members of it stood 
apart on principle and refused to co-operate with it. 
There could hardly have been a more severe condem- 
nation of Lord Birkenhead's policy than this. 


The painstaking industry of the Simon Commissioners 
and their staff of workers is worthy of great commenda- 
tion. The external facts of India are presented in a 
lucid and informative manner, and in certain chapters, 
such as those on Local Self-Government and Educa- 
tion, in Volume I, it is evident that they had expert 
advice and counsel which was both sympathetic 
towards Indian aspirations and critical of the pre- 
sent system. There is also throughout a courtesy of 
tone towards Indians generally that makes the Report 
a welcome change from the cold attitude towards the 
human side of life which Blue Books often represent. 
Immense pains have been taken to avoid the assump- 
tion of a dominating racial attitude. All this and much 
more might be said concerning the Report in certain 
important directions. Personally I -have endeavoured 
in all that I have written, even though I have differed 
radically from many of the conclusions, to give the 
Commissioners every credit for good intentions and 
to lay stress on the positive and constructive side of 
their work, accomplished under difficulties for which 
they themselves were hardly responsible. While 
making this as clear as possible, it is necessary at the 
same time to add that the Report has been to me, on 
the whole, the more I h$ve studied its details and 



considered its main conclusions, a very disappointing 

The reason for this disappointment is that there 
appears to be something lacking which throws the 
whole picture of modern India out of its true per- 
spective. It deals much more with that old India 
which I knew when I first went out nearly thirty years 
ago, before the National Movement had started; it 
shows little understanding of the Young India which 
we see rising to-day on the tide of national upheaval. 
This India is almost strange compared with the old. 
Nothing less than an inner revolution has occurred. 
One of the ablest Englishmen who was intimately 
acquainted with the village life of India said to me 
that after coming back from a short furlough he 
had felt very strangely out of touch. We all feel 
it; and I know well that if I were to go back at 
this moment I should have to revise many of my old 
mental pictures. 

Since the Report is to make recommendations for 
the future, this lack of true vision of Young India is 
a very serious affair. For it is clearly this India, and 
not the India of thirty years ago, to which the future 
belongs. The Commissioners have failed, not from 
any want of courtesy, but because they have 
hardly come into close contact with the people at 
first hand. 

A very simple analogy may illustrate my point. 
New Delhi has been built by British architects at 



enormous cost to the Indian public. A slight attempt 
has been made by these British architects to put in 
here and there a touch of India; but the effect is 
altogether different from the indigenous architecture of 
the country* Even now it may be gathered from 
Indian experience and sentiment, already widely held, 
that the official buildings of New Delhi are unsuited 
for India. In the same way a political architecture, 
built up on a British model by seven British Com- 
missioners, is likely to be equally unsuited to Indian 
conditions. The people of the country will not feel 
at home in it. Naturally they will prefer their own 
political structure. Only when they get what they 
want will they be satisfied. 

A further parallel might be taken from the growth 
of the Indian Christian Church. Here again the 
missionaries have imposed their own Western scheme 
of things upon the constitution of the Church. The 
consequence of this has been that a revolt is taking 
place to-day among young Indian Christians because 
they cannot feel at home within the limitations which 
have been imposed by their missionary teachers from 
the West. There is exactly the same spirit of non- 
co-operation here that we find in the Indian national 
life.* The cry of the Indian Church, as well as of the 
Indian nation, is for Swaraj* The Indian Christians 
desire an Eastern expression of Christianity wherein 
they can feel at home. 

It is, of course, impossible for any single individual 



to speak in general terms about the whole of India 
with any degree of accuracy. The area is so vast. But 
what I have personally witnessed, wherever I have 
gone, either in the extreme North or in the furthest 
South, has been a new national life breaking through 
the old shell of hard, encrusted social systems, creating 
in India a revolutionary element that is growing 
stronger in its opposition to foreign rule and in its 
determination to be independent. It takes many forms, 
and it varies, in different Provinces and among the 
diverse religious communities, in its intensity. But it 
bears one distinct characteristic. It is a movement of 
the spirit of man seeking freedom. 

In the Spectator of July 26, 1930, a letter is 
published from an Englishman in Bombay who writes 
as follows: 

"I am deeply impressed by the sincerity of the 
Indian leaders, and I am afraid people at home do 
not realize how strong feeling is there is abso- 
lutely no antagonism to the English as such. My 
treatment by Indians of all schools here even in 
a hot-bed of Gandhism is perfect, but they claim 
the right to manage their own aifairs. All the 
Hindus in Gujarat, from Gandhi down to the 
meanest member of the depressed classes, are solid 
in their demand; and in the twentieth century we 
cannot deny the right of self-determination to 
320 million people* ... I tell you in all solemnity 



that Indians are prepared to ruin themselves if 
' necessary, in the same spirit that the Dutch flooded 
their own land in the fight for freedom. I never 
realized that the Indians were capable of such an 
effort . Men are not only cheerfully going to prison 
but are cheerfully allowing their lands to be 
confiscated in return for non-payment of taxes. 
When a country's spirit is like that, how can any 
real Englishman (who loves his own country and 
thinks what he would do if his own Motherland 
were in alien hands, however justly it were ruled) 
help but respect a people who are by nature pacific 
and non- violent. . . ." 

The change which is thus graphically outlined from 
the field of action itself has come about with very 
great rapidity, as a revolutionary upheaval on peaceful 
lines. We cannot understand it aright unless we 
realize the unique personality of Mahatma Gandhi. 
It is extraordinarily difficult in prosaic modern England 
to give any conception of the emancipating influence 
of this romantic figure. We have to go back to the 
Middle Ages and study the effect of the Franciscan 
Movement on Western Europe. This analogy may 
startle some of my readers who do not know Gandhi 
the man, and do not understand what moral power he 
wields in India to-day. But I can say without any 
hesitation, as one who has studied modern India 
closely, that the analogy holds. I have lived in the 



midst of the revolution that Gandhi has inspired, and 
I have also lived at a distance from it and seen it in 
perspective. There is no question in my own mind as 
to what the verdict of history will be. The new life that 
has come to India through Gandhi has created the 
National Movement. But it is like no other national 
uprising in the world because its unchallenged leader 
has refused to appeal to force, and has suffered im- 
prisonment time after time along with his followers. 
It is, in effect, a religious revolution, which has taken 
a national form. 

Let it be remembered that Legend is still one of the 
most potent influences in the life of the Indian village 
people, who are spiritually alert and intellectually keen* 
The power of a religious personality, such as that 
of Mahatma Gandhi, on such simple and fresh 
intelligences is far greater than we in the modern 
West can imagine. We have to go back, therefore, to 
the Middle Ages for our examples, for those were 
rightly called Ages of Faith, in which miracles such 
as we witness in India to-day really happened. We all 
recognize that the Franciscan Movement changed the 
face of Western Europe and ushered in vast political 
changes. In the same way the Gandhi Movement is 
changing from within the face of modern India and 
creating a vast political upheaval. I cannot stop to 
prove this, but I do unhesitatingly affirm it as a 
definite concrete fact and not as a vague, sentimental 
belief. In the books I have written about Mahatma 


Gandhi I the evidence for all that I have here briefly 
stated has been given in full. 

It may be well, however, for the sake of those who 
would challenge these statements concerning his 
influence, to give some actual instances of his magnetic 
power in India. Once he had promised to speak at a 
very remote place in Gujarat on an evening in the 
dry cold weather, and the village people, as usual on 
such occasions, began to flock to the place from every 
side in their family bullock-carts, or else to come in on 
foot, walking twenty or thirty miles. For two or three 
days before the meeting the roads were thronged by 
this universal migration to see Gandhi. It was like the 
festival occasion of a great pilgrimage for all the 
village folk. That night there was an eclipse of the 
moon, and since the villagers were mainly Hindus 
they would naturally perform some religious ceremony 
at the exact time of the eclipse according to their 
ancient custom. The meeting was held in a large open 
space, and the villagers were sitting closely packed 
together in a vast circle. There were nearly as many 
women present as men. Indeed, it was a family exodus, 
for children were present also. The crowd was so 
dense that it was extremely difficult for us to make our 
way through without treading on someone. 

During the time of the meeting the eclipse actually 

1 See, for instance, Mahatma Gandhi's Ideas and Mahatma 
Gandhi: his own Story > published by George Allen & Unwin 
Ltd., London. 



took place, but the crowd was so absorbed in attending 
to Gandhi that no one moved. When I asked about 
this, a villager who was near to me said: "The darshan 
(religious sight) of Mahatma Gandhi is itself a cere- 
mony of purification. What more is needed?" 

Since I had to go away before the meeting was over, 
I was curious enough at the moment to count the 
number of steps that I took, very carefully and slowly, 
in order to get out of the crowd with the least dis- 
turbance possible. They were about one hundred and 
fifty in all. So this represented the radius of a huge 
circumference wherein the audience was very tightly 
packed. On a rough calculation, I put down the number 
present at about one hundred thousand. This would 
have been nothing unusual during the days of the 
non-co-operation movement of 1920-22. But no one 
except Gandhi himself could attract a crowd like that. 

During the present upheaval I have been told that 
the concourse of villagers has been far greater than 
ever. There is an account about North Behar, which 
is on the opposite side of India to Gujarat. The state- 
ment was made in Young India that wherever Gandhi 
went in Behar it was estimated that the numbers of 
the crowd which came to meet him were more than 
double those who had come in the non-co-operation 
days. At one place it was reckoned by Mahatma Gandhi 
himself, who is very careful in such matters, that there 
were over two hundred thousand persons present. 
On this occasion so impossible was it for him to reach 



even a fraction of this vast multitude, in his tired 
state, by speaking aloud, that he determined instead 
to employ the dignity of silence. He sat in their midst 
in absolute quiet, without a word being said, and then 
went away. The crowd was quite satisfied. They had 
all seen Gandhi. They had received their darshan, and 
that was enough. 

The greatest difficulty of all on these occasions, as 
I have very often experienced, is to prevent the rush 
of the crowd to touch his feet on his departure. He is 
very frail in body and small of stature. The crowd 
becomes so overwhelmed with a kind of religious 
ecstasy of devotion that it is almost impossible to 
control it. For days beforehand instructions have to 
be given throughout the villages that Mahatma Gandhi 
does not at all like this form of respect and devotion ; 
but the difficulty of controlling a religiously emotional 
crowd remains. He himself has learnt by long ex- 
perience to get through this trying ordeal with the 
greatest speed possible; but it has always remained a 
difficulty hard to overcome. 

If it be asked whether this devotion is confined to 
Hindus, I would answer that in the main it is not. 
I have seen Muhammadan villagers, whose fore- 
fathers were Hindus and who possess the Hindu 
spirit of devotion in their own inner characters, 
coming to Mahatma Gandhi as a great saint. 

Let me tell what happened in one of those parts 
of Behar that are very near to the foot-hills of 



the Himalayas and therefore not easily accessible. 
It was at the very beginning of the spread of his 
amazing influence and long before the non-co-operation 
movement. My own dress was in the Indian fashion. 
Throughout this northern part of India many of the 
people have a fair complexion. Therefore with my 
beard and Indian dress I passed for a time almost 
unnoticed. Then the news spread that I was travelling 
with Mahatma Gandhi. The crowd immediately 
gathered round me in a very friendly manner, and the 
one question that they wished to ask me was when 
they would get Swaraj, or self-government. It sur- 
prised me that the longing for Swaraj should have 
penetrated into such an extremely remote part of the 
country at such an early date. Since that happened 
much water has passed down the Ganges. 

In Assam at the height of the non-co-operation 
movement Mahatma Gandhi's tour through the 
interior villages resulted, within six months, in a drop 
in the opium consumption by nearly twenty-five per 
cent., and the moral effect of his visit in this direction 
has continued ever since. Assam is no longer the 
"black spot" of India that it was in previous years. 
The opium addiction has never revived. The educated 
Assamese, who had not themselves suffered from the 
curse in the same way as the villagers, took up the 
moral issue, and they have done wonderful things. 
To those who know how almost incurable the opium 
habit is when it has got deep into the heart of the 

4 8 


villages as it had done in Assam, the story of this 
change in the people's customs will appear almost 
incredible. But the dynamic force behind this was 
Gandhi's personality. And when one has seen it, as 
I have, doing its healing work, then we are obliged to 
think in other terms than those which are regarded as 
credible at ordinary times. 

I will give another story that reveals how indi- 
vidual he is in his tenderness, as well as having at 
the same time a vast compassion for the multitude. 
An Indian Christian whom I knew had wished to 
come and see me while I was with Mahatma Gandhi 
at Juhu during his serious illness. The young man had 
just lost his mother, who had been for many years a 
widow, his father having died when he was quite 
young. Gandhi was still very ill, but the sorrow of 
this young Indian Christian deeply affected him. 
He would not let him go back until he had called him 
three or four times to his bedside to ask him to open 
his heart in his grief, and when at last he departed he 
said: "You must always consider me to be your 
father and Kasturbai (Mrs. Gandhi) your mother, 
and you have a place in my house as your own home." 
It was a very simple incident; but it represents a 
perpetual life of love and service which has been the 
secret of his influence with the poor. 

The same Indian told me how on a later occasion 
he happened to mention to Mahatma Gandhi the 
pain he had suffered when a Hindu wearing a Gandhi 

D 49 


cap had refused some water that he had offered in all 
kindness of heart. Early next morning, directly after 
the prayers at four o'clock, Mahatma Gandhi called 
him. He said that for the whole of that night he had 
not been able to get any sleep at all, because he had 
felt in his heart just what the Indian Christian had felt 
when his kindness was refused. He had been trying 
all night long to devise a remedy. For, he said, thus 
merely to keep the letter of orthodox Hinduism, while 
breaking the spirit, was against all true religion. 

"I am just an ordinary human being," Gandhi said 
once in my hearing, "and full of weaknesses and sins. 
But I have this one thing that the poor recognize in 
me at once : they know that I share all their hardships. 
You could have the same influence, if you would do 
the same." 


The question has been asked whether Mahatma 
Gandhi's influence is mainly political, or whether it is 
moral and social at the same time. 

It is impossible to draw these sharp distinctions 
when one listens to his simple dramatic talks with the 
villagers. He is always practical, and never says a word 
too much. He is also a born teacher of simple, unso- 
phisticated people. Let me take a typical instance, such 
as I have frequently witnessed. It may be that, when 
the village audience is very primitive and the crowd 
is immense, he will take his hand with its five fingers 
and its wrist. He will compare it to five branches 
coming out from the trunk of a tree, or some such 
parallel, and then he will begin his lesson. 

The first finger, or branch, will stand for Hindu- 
Muslim unity. Hindus and Musalmans must learn to 
respect one another, because they are brothers and 
sisters. They must by no means quarrel over trifles or 
annoy their neighbours. 

The second branch, or finger of the hand, will stand 
for the removal of "untouchability". No one must be 
an "outcaste" any longer. Every human being is 
sacred, and no single person must ever be treated as 
impure or unclean. 

The middle finger stands for equality between man 



and woman in God's sigh-t, Man must treat woman as 
an equal. The whole purdah system must be abandoned, 
wherever it is still in force The age of marriage must 
be raised. The ever growing evil of prostitution in the 
cities must be removed, He fearlessly faces the whole 
problem of sex relations on the basis of equality. At 
the same time he will harve nothing to do with birth 
control, which he regards as contrary to the divine 
law of human existence. 

The fourth branch, or finger, represents the pro- 
hibition of all liquor and drug-taking. He points to the 
crying evil of doping the little children with Govern- 
ment monopoly opium in Bombay. Such things must 
go, and the foreign spirituous liquors must not be 
imported. They have brought ruin to India, and a 
clean sweep must be of them. "They are the 
real 'untouchables'," says Gandhi. "No man or 
woman can pollute us by their presence, but opium 
and liquor can.** Here tie "will pour scorn on the 
absurd social convention of refusing to touch a human 
being. The shrewd villagers smile and say to one 
another, "He is right.*' 

The fifth and last finger on the hand represents the 
greatest innovation, namely the promotion of home 
spinning and home weaving in every village in India, 
so that the village families may spin and weave their 
own cloth out of the cotton that grows at their own 
doors instead of buying it. "This work does not interfere 
with their agricultural labour, but rather supplements 



it. For it gives the villagers an industry, simple and 
inexpensive, to be followed in their spare time when 
it is impossible for them to cultivate the fields on 
account of the dryness of the soil. This khaddar (home- 
spun) programme is the most important economic 
fact of all. It saves the villagers from drifting into the 
towns when they are reduced to extreme poverty by 
lack of employment. The money that is now spent in 
buying cloth can be used for providing the family 
with more food. Thus the worst vicious circle of all is 
broken through by increasing the inner resources of the 
peasant and strengthening his moral character with a 
sense of self-dependence. Swaraj, says Gandhi, is 
first to be won within, and secondly in the family 
circle. Then it must be won in the whole village, which 
should be made sanitary and clean and free from 
jungle by the work of all the willing hands in the 
village, boys and girls included. This and nothing less 
is involved in Purna Swaraj (complete self-government). 

After the five fingers have thus been taken one by 
one, then comes the wrist or it may be called by him 
the trunk of a tree from which the five branches, or 
fingers, spread out. What does the wrist of the hand 
stand for? It stands for Ahimsa, or absolute non- 
violence. This Ahimsa is the soul-force which binds 
all the social, economic and political programme 

Such, then, is the extremely simple method of his 
village teaching, as he goes on his very long and 



infinitely arduous tours. At times I have accompanied 
him, and have watched his amazing moral determina- 
tion to subdue his own body to his spirit's ardent call, 
in order to fulfil his mission. His frail bodily frame, 
racked by frequent illness, seems quite unable to 
bear the strain. But the miracle of soul-force, exercised 
by himself relentlessly in this manner, goes on repeat- 
ing itself from day to day, without pause, until the 
end comes and he is imprisoned. The village people, 
whether Hindu or Musalman, will come from any 
distance to hear him. I have been with him in the 
Musalman areas of Bengal where the thronging 
crowd, eager to see him, and to follow his simple 
precepts, has been no less than among the Hindu 
villages. The "untouchables" are closest of all to his 
heart. He has adopted one of them as his own daughter, 
and has taken her, with willing consent, into orthodox 
Brahmin houses. Whenever, at a village gathering, 
the outcastes, or untouchables, are seated on the ground 
apart, he invariably goes and takes his seat among 
them. He then challenges the caste people to come 
near and join him, and they consent. Compared with 
other moral forces in India, his personality is the 
greatest. It makes no difference whether he visits the 
extreme North- West, or North-East, or the extreme 
South, the very same thing happens. The villagers 
flock to him as soon as ever they know that he is 
coming. I have been with him both in the South and 
in the North, as well as in the East and West, and it is 


easy for me to state this as a fact from what I have 
seen with my own eyes. My one anxiety has always 
been lest the crowd, which pressed forward to meet 
him and receive his blessing, should be so insistent in 
their devotion to him that injury might overtake him. 

Just to show how far his name and influence are 
still penetrating among the countless millions of 
India, authentic records have been recently received 
of a whole tribe, untouched by civilization and living 
in a very remote and inaccessible part of the interior, 
which has given up its age-long habit of meat-eating 
and become vegetarian, solely because the news had 
reached the tribesmen that this was Gandhi's hukm 
(command). There are verifiable records concerning 
multitudes of aborigines who have determined to 
give up liquor in the same manner. To follow his pre- 
cepts (and he will have no mere lip-service) may not 
mean any serious self-denial of daily comforts for the 
simple villagers; but it does mean the much harder 
sacrifice of those ingrained social prejudices which he 
continually condemns. 

What has amazed me is to see young men and 
women, who, like the rich young man in the Gospel 
story, had great possessions, gladly changing their 
daily habits to a life of extreme hardship with the joy 
of a new-found freedom. Such is Jawaharlal Nehru, 
the son of Pandit Motilal Nehru, who was elected 
President of the National Congress for 1930, and is now 
in prison along with hundreds of others. Such was the 



young Muhammadan, Umar Sobhani, who died a 
short time ago, one of the richest young men . in 
Bombay. Though he did not abandon his wealth, he 
was ready to suffer great hardship while following 
Mahatma Gandhi. Such, again, to-day is Shankarlal 
Banker but the list would be far too long, if I tried 
to record it. Many of these had before, in earlier days, 
when they were young, adopted a Western mode of 
living, with all its comforts and luxuries. Then they 
met Mahatma Gandhi and were converted. Now they 
dress in khaddar and eat the simplest village food. 

During this soul-force movement, which is still 
extending its area in unexpected ways, many thousands 
of persons, including women as well as men, have 
faced imprisonment and police violence as passive 
resisters, not only while Mahatma Gandhi was still 
at liberty, encouraging and inspiring them as their 
leader, but also with still greater fortitude and unity, 
if that were possible, since the time when he himself 
was imprisoned and they were left all alone. Eye- 
witnesses of these facts now include many Europeans, 
such as those whom the Daily Telegraph reported in 
Bombay as shocked by the violence exercised on 
passive resisters on what was called Black Saturday. 
There are also witnesses, such as Mr. K. Natarajan, 
the editor of the Indian Social Reformer, who 
made a visit to Dharasana in order to see what 
happened. The bare figures that have been given 
week by week in the House of Commons by the 


Secretary of State, recording the number of political 
prisoners, are themselves an impressive witness. For 
it has always to be remembered that, for one person 
actually arrested and imprisoned, not seldom many 
hundreds of men and women have offered passive 
resistance. It would be hard, therefore, to find in the 
pages of modern history any close parallel to this 
moral influence of one single personality over vast 
bodies of people, or a more heroic record of sacrifice 
for a great cause. Garibaldi led his tattered regiments 
offering them imprisonment or death; but, heroic as 
that struggle was, it was a struggle of force against 
force, of violence against violence. In the Ruhr, men 
and women stood silently at bay till the French 
invasion broke; but violence was in their hearts, impo- 
tent as they were to use its weapons. Here men and 
women have gladly and joyfully stood up to serious 
bodily injury and rigorous imprisonment without any 
weapon in their hands and offering no resistance. 1 

These men and women who have thus gone joyfully 
to prison without offering any resistance have surely 
won the indefeasible right to speak for their fellow 
countrymen. Their own suffering and love have given 
them the power to interpret the inarticulate longings 
of those poor folk in India who cannot speak for 
themselves in the language of the West. This longing 
to have their own Government and to be governed 
by their own people is now wellnigh universal. The 
1 See Appendices II, IV and V, 



villagers of India judge leadership by the one sovereign 
test of self-denial. Until the late C. R. Das in Bengal 
was prepared to sacrifice everything in the national 
cause, he did not gain from the common people the 
name of Deshbandhu. 1 Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, as a 
rich young man, clothed in fine raiment, carried no 
weight at all. But Jawaharlal, clad in coarse home- 
spun, suffering joyfully in jail, fearless in the face of 
danger, becomes by universal choice the President of 
the National Congress and unchallenged leader of the 
Youth Movement. 

The women of India are now taking upon them- 
selves the same responsibility of suffering for the sake 
of their country. They uphold marvellously to-day the 
right of sacrifice for the cause, and as soon as ever 
they do so a throne is given to them in the hearts of 
the masses of the people. There is no greater change, 
and none more welcome, than this remarkable leader- 
ship of women in the one supreme endeavour to gain 
Indian independence. By this means alone more has 
been done in a few years to secure women's rights in 
India than by many generations of domestic submis- 
sion. In this matter of the importance of woman in 
India the instinct of the Commissioners has guided 
them aright; and here in their recommendations they 
deserve full praise. 

There is one scene in my memory concerning the 
flooded area of North Bengal, iij 1933-23. It was one 

1 "Friend of the Country." 


of those terrible disasters in which fifteen hundred 
square miles of cultivated land were flooded and the 
people were on the brink of starvation. The suffering 
was indescribable. The villages were Muhammadan, 
not Hindu ; but every one of the national volunteers 
working with me was a Hindu, and nearly all the 
relief money came from Hindu sources. One hears 
frequently in London newspapers of Hindu-Muslim 
riots, but we hear nothing of a national movement in 
which religious differences are practically forgotten 
among the workers owing to the one great issue of 
the common cause. Day after day I went from one 
village to another with those national workers. "Not 
once was the religious question ever broached between 
us. There has come a new, inclusive ideal of service, 
which preserves the devotion that was the religious 
strength of India in bygone days, but pours it out 
for the Motherland with a new religious meaning. 
This is itself bringing about an emancipation from all 
the narrow passions of the past. The nucleus of a 
national unity has been formed that is above race or 
party or creed. Even the old caste distinctions vanish, 
as this new devotion to India, the Motherland, gains 
ground. This has become a religious cult, and I have 
constantly seen the picture of India the Mother in 
students' rooms with the flowers of worship before it. 
In Orissa the greatest misery of all exists among 
the poor who are attached to the soil. Floods come 
year after year and ruin husbandry. Late in the year 



1927 eighty thousand houses were washed away. The 
Government, out of the famine relief fund and 
other sources, provided the' pitiful sum of twelve 
shillings for the erection of each new house 
in which four or five persons were to be accommo- 
dated. Here again the national workers who came as 
volunteers and risked their lives in one of the most 
malignantly malarial parts of India differed widely in 
religion and social status. The help given reached us 
from distant parts as well as from near at hand. The 
clash came almost immediately between the Govern- 
ment subordinates and the nationalists who were out 
for Swaraj. The people were too sunk in misery to 
help themselves, but as soon as ever the national 
workers came their hopes revived. With the Govern- 
ment subordinate officers everything was done with an 
air of compulsion. People were ordered here and 
ordered there. The equipment required was extrava- 
gantly expensive compared with the methods of the 
volunteers. I tried my very hardest to work with both 
sides; but it was almost impossible. It was like mixing 
oil and water. 

In the midst of these very difficulties word came 
that Mahatma Gandhi was about to arrive on one 
of his tours. Hope revived, and in a short time 
courage to deal with desperate human suffering 
returned. Then a sudden illness befell Mahatma 
Gandhi himself, and we feared a dangerous crisis 
because his blood pressure was very high. It was 



impossible, however, to prevent the poor half-starved 
people from flocking to see him, and getting what 
comfort they could from his presence. This one chance 
brought the only breath of spiritual exaltation they 
could ever have in their drab, monotonous lives. 
"Living skeletons" was the name that Gandhi gave to 
these poor people of Orissa, and the title was terribly 

A little later on, after Mahatma Gandhi had passed 
on to the National Congress at Madras, nearly a 
thousand downtrodden peasants came in from a 
neighbouring State with stories of harsh oppression. 
The Rajah, they said, had wasted his substance in 
luxury, not having to render any account for the taxes 
he levied from his own subjects* At last the misery 
had gone beyond all bounds, and great numbers had 
left the State in order to ask for justice. Month after 
month they waited, with a patience like that of Job, 
refusing to go back till their sufferings were remedied. 
Here again it was a band of national workers who 
kept these poor people from utter starvation. While 
we hear in England about the treaty rights of the 
princes, which must be strictly observed, we hear 
little of the rights of these poor people from whom 
the puppet Rajah derives his revenue with the help 
of the military power of Great Britain. These starving 
peasants turned to us to deliver them from their 

All along, if I have made my point clear, this new 



national life is stirring, and the people are responding. 
At Chandpur, in the cholera camp, the clash came in 
a different way between the national workers and the 
officials. The Government had sent down an array of 
sub-assistant surgeons and compounders of medicine 
with their regulation equipment, under an officer from 
the Indian Medical Service; but the poor people who 
were suffering would have none of them. They openly 
preferred the help of the national volunteers, who had 
come first to their aid in their distress. With incredible 
speed a makeshift for a hospital had been arranged 
with different sheds. Volunteers offered themselves 
up to three times the number we required. A doctor, 
dressed in homespun, wearing a Gandhi cap, was in 
command. The work was brilliantly carried through, 
and the epidemic was stayed. But one could see in the 
midst of it all how the poorest of the poor clung 
closely to the national workers. One of the latter 
sacrificed his own life in the service of the poor, and 
others were very seriously ill. Some returned with 
health shattered. Musalman volunteers were helping 
side by side with Hindu compatriots. Meanwhile the 
Government medical officer and his staff were stranded. 
They had no patients. By the greatest effort of con- 
ciliation I was able to get the Government officials 
taken into the national work for a few days. But the 
scheme broke down, as I feared from the start. Their 
methods were entirely different. But the experiment 
proved how cumbrous and expensive the Govern- 


ment scheme was, and I saw at the same time how 
remarkably cheap and efficient the National Congress 
organization had become. Among those to be cared 
for and nursed back to health at Chandpur were those 
who came from the untouchable classes. But the 
volunteers made no caste or religious distinctions. 
Since that time I have followed the history of this 
national doctor who managed the whole of this 
organization so efficiently and cheaply. He has been 
in jail again and again, and is even now suffering 
imprisonment as a passive resister. 

An amusing story may light up some of the darkness 
of the picture I have been drawing. The Bishop in 
Assam, the Right Rev. Pakenham Walsh, together 
with his wife, who was a skilled hospital nurse, 
suddenly appeared in the camp one day and asked to 
be taken on. We had only just recovered from the 
final split with the Government officials, and it was 
very difficult for me to explain the fine point of dis- 
tinction that the Bishop in Assam was not under 
Government control. Indeed, I never tried to do so, 
but explained instead unblushingly that he and 
his wife were both Irish Free Staters. That made an 
impression; yet still there was some suspicion, for 
though the Bishop did not wear gaiters, nevertheless 
his clothes were not made of the orthodox khaddar 
which nationalists wear. However, we got over that 
difficulty by my telling the volunteers that they were 
dear friends of mine, and asking that a trial should be 



given them. With a thoroughness that did the volunteers 
credit they at once set the Bishop to carry the cholera 
buckets to the latrine, and he did it with such zest 
that he was soon admitted as a volunteer worker. 
When I returned to the camp (after a discreet absence 
while he was making his own footing) I found him 
diligently carrying the slops, and his wife nursing a 
tiny, wee orphan baby of three weeks old whose 
father and mother had both died of cholera only the 
day before. 

One thing I would wish to make as clear as 
possible. In this national upheaval which I have 
described religious differences between Hindus and 
Musalmans become obliterated. The creed of 
nationalism is by far the greatest levelling factor 
in modern India. It makes for unification. 

6 4 


The reason for the continuance of the non-co-operation 
movement repeated again and again by Mahatma 
Gandhi is this that Swaraj, or self-government, has 
become now an absolute necessity, if national reforms 
are to go forward. India can look after her own affairs 
much better than Great Britain can, because the 
British rule is foreign, and therefore extravagant; 
official, instead of human; and through lack of 
understanding very often oppressive. 1 

He believes it is also directed on all crucial occasions 
more to the good of England than to the welfare of 
India. Again and again he has put forward a simple 
test whether, for instance, the British Government 
is ready to remit the salt tax, which oppresses the very 
poorest of the poor; or to abolish the sale of cheap 
Government opium to mothers who dope their 
babies; or to encourage home-spinning among the 
peasants in the numberless villages of India, and thus 
save them from relying solely upon agriculture and 
leading a half-starved existence; or to prohibit the sale 
of thoroughly bad "country" liquor in the villages, 
from which Government revenue is derived; or to 
reduce the extravagant expenditure on New Delhi; 
or, again, on foreign troops from Great Britain at five 
1 See Appendices I-IV. 

E 65 


times the expense (for each man) of an Indian soldier. 
But the Government remains silent. 

As one who has lived among the villagers, to me 
personally these seem to be matters that ought to 
be reasoned over. They should have been brought to 
a conference long ago. Questions of this kind ought 
surely to be thrashed out, and what is really good for 
India should be decided. 

Yet there is one thing, perhaps, more than anything 
else that stands in the way of such a process. The 
central power in India is not a responsible Govern- 
ment. It can flout public opinion whenever it cares 
to do so. What this means in practice we can hardly 
grasp in Great Britain, where the Government is 
responsible to public opinion not merely through a 
vote in Parliament, but through an authoritative 

Along with power in India goes prestige. No 
Government that ever existed has given up power, 
already within its own control, without a struggle; 
and the Indian Government is no exception. When 
the present Prime Minister was in India more than 
twenty years ago he told me with a laugh what he had 
said at Simla, when he met the Viceroy's Executive 
Council. The phrase was so apt that it has stuck in 
my mind ever since. "Gentlemen," he said, "a 
Government of Archangels couldn't help going wrong 
and making dreadful mistakes without an Opposition. 
Where is your Leader of the Opposition?" 


To my own way of thinking, Mahatma Gandhi has 
been the most effective "Leader of the Opposition" 
that the Government of India has ever had. For the 
first time in recent history the highest authorities at 
Simla have had someone to stand up to them. For 
instance, he put forward in 1921 his remarkable 
proposition that if only the Government of India 
would actively promote home-spinning and weaving 
in the villages and actively prohibit the sale of intoxi- 
cating liquor and drugs, he would find in this a 
basis for co-operation. At that critical moment I 
took this proposal personally to the Government, and 
made it as clear as possible that Mahatma Gandhi 
meant exactly what he said. But there was absolutely 
no response. 

If the reason be asked it will be found in the one 
fact that all the power was in their hands and not in 
the hands of Mahatma Gandhi. Therefore imperial 
prestige would not allow anything that might be 
regarded as weakness. The Government of India, so 
the official argument would run, knew much better 
what was good for the people of India than did Mr. 
Gandhi ; at any rate, they were not going to be dictated 
to under threats of non-co-operation. Let him call off 
his non-co-operation first, and then the Government 
of India would be ready to reason about it afterwards. 
This is always the argument of a Government en- 
trenched behind the barrier of irresponsible power. 

Two instances may suffice of the harm that is done 



by the exercise of such arbitrary rule. In 1919 the 
Rowlatt Act was introduced, whereby a man might 
be imprisoned without; any open trial on evidence 
given by the police. To anyone who knows the 
corrupt state of the whole police system in India this 
Rowlatt Act opened the door to evils of the worst 
possible character. The Right Hon. V. Srinavasa 
Sastri, in a prophetic speech, warned the Government 
of India of the consequences of forcing through such 
a measure. But the Government owed no responsi- 
bility to Indian public opinion, however enlightened 
and united. All the subsequent troubles, including 
"Amritsar" itself, followed from this high-handed 
action of an irresponsible Government. For it led at 
once to civil disobedience. 

A second instance may be found in the doubling of 
the Salt Tax in the year 1923. During the post-war 
years Indian finances were suffering as a result of 
fluctuations in currency, and it was regarded: as 
necessary to show a surplus budget. The Government 
of India proposed, therefore, that the Salt Tax itself 
should be doubled in order to balance the accounts. 
But even the hardiest Government supporter among 
the elected members could not bear that ! For the evil 
of the Salt Tax is this, that it inflicts injury upon the 
millions of the very poorest people who are living on 
the verge of starvation. To double the Salt Tax was 
to create for these poorest people a double hardship 
at a time when the cost of living was terribly high 


already. So a vote was taken in the Assembly and the 
Government proposal was defeated. But that adverse 
vote in the Assembly did not end the matter. On the 
contrary, the Viceroy at once certificated the doubling 
of the Salt Tax against the will of the elected mem- 
bers. Yet by the end of the financial year it was proved 
beyond a shadow of doubt that there had been no 
need to double this tax at all; for there was an ample 
surplus. Therefore the Salt Tax went back to its old 
level after the year's futile experiment was over. 

The power in the Viceroy's hands was absolute. 
He had only to sign a piece of paper and the vote of 
the Assembly was cancelled. Truly Mr. Ramsay 
Macdonald, if he came out to India again, might 
still repeat to the Executive Council at Simla his 
word of wisdom: "Gentlemen," he would say, "a 
Government of Archangels couldn't help going wrong 
and making dreadful mistakes without an Opposition. 
Where is your Leader of the Opposition?" 

But Mahatma Gandhi, the "Leader of the Opposi- 
tion", is in prison, and the Simon Report recommends 
that the Central Government of India should remain 
in future, for all practical purposes, as irresponsible 
as ever. 

The question may be asked with some impatience: 
"What is your alternative? Would not things immedi- 
ately break down if the British left? Are we not in 
India as trustees for the poorest people in order 
to prevent their being exploited by the rich? Have 



we not a trustee's duty to hand over the Government 
to responsible persons instead of letting everything go 
to rack and ruin?" 

At this point let me make clear, by an obvious 
analogy, that it is psychologically impossible to keep 
India in leading-strings any longer. In these modern 
times, with their modern methods of government, India 
has obviously reached what may be called her political 
age of discretion. In the home life of any family 
there comes that awkward age when to exercise 
restraint any longer only aggravates the trouble and 
drives the spirit of revolt still deeper. We all 
recognize that such a revolt is healthy, and that the 
time comes when there must be absolute freedom of 
inner choice and self-direction if growth is not to be 
stunted. Such a time has come in India, and it is 
already long overdue. In the different chapters which 
follow I shall show into what a vicious circle India 
had come owing to the prolonged subjection to 
foreign rule which had enmeshed her and crippled her 
freedom. It will also be made clear how it was the 
advent of the volcanic personality of Mahatma Gandhi 
which broke through that vicious circle. All this will 
be argued out later; but at this point it needs to be 
made clear that for the present regime to go on longer 
unchanged at the centre, as the Simon Commissioners 
suggest, is now not only psychologically but also 
politically impossible. It is leading to an ever-increasing 
estrangement, and also to the final imposition of a 


foreign political structure which has faulty cracks in it 
already, and is becoming more and more unsuited to 
the genius of the country. 

One thing may be regarded as certain. The national 
programme of India will be a very different thing 
from that which the Simon Commissioners now 
contemplate. There will be no mere patching up of 
an old garment with new bits of cloth here and there, 
such as will make the rent worse. There will be no 
putting new wine into old bottles. Thus, for instance, 
the army will never be left outside the body of Indian 
national life under British control. There will also 
be no more a bureaucratic Government at Simla, 
irresponsible to Indian opinion and under the dicta- 
tion of the India Office at Whitehall. Nor will there 
be a Secretary of State for India, with his Council, 
looking down from his official building upon Clive's 
statue, as the emblem of British occupation. It is very 
doubtful indeed whether the analogy of "dominion 
status" will hold for long, since India can never by 
any stretch of imagination be in perpetuity a "Domin- 
ion" like Canada or Australia. An entirely different 
terminology will be needed for the bond of connection 
between India and Great Britain. If, as Sir Henry 
Lawrence contemplated, an alliance on terms of equal 
friendship can be brought about by future statesman- 
ship, that will represent a Irnk of interdependence 
which may benefit both peoples. It is in that direction 
of alliance rather than in the direction of a dominion 


that the British connection with India may lie in the 

The new life in India will cut its own channels; 
but more and more it will be found that the peculiar 
genius of the people lies in the villages. There first 
of all Mahatma Gandhi's programme will be put into 
active operation. For India is a country of villages. 
Taken as village units, the five hundred thousand 
villages of British India should not prove an insur- 
mountable number to deal with. Each village will 
have its own individual development as a self- 
contained unit, and its own living bonds of con- 
nection with its next-door neighbours. This system 
of village "republics", each with its own President and 
panchayat* carrying on its own Swaraj, is likely to be 
the national objective. From this fundamental village 
system, if Mahatma Gandhi is right, the new body 
politic of India, when the British occupation is over, will 
come into being. It will have the character of ancient 
India about it, and it will appeal to the peculiar 
instinct of those who have inhabited the Indian 
peninsula from time immemorial. No dynasty or 
empire, either of the Moghuls or of the British, has 
been able to destroy it, though each invader who has 
come as a foreigner from outside has done something 
to shake it. For Mahatma Gandhi, as he looks out 
upon the Indian future, the village is India in minia- 
ture. India, to him, represents the rural as contrasted 

1 Village committee of five members. 


with the urban civilization. The genius of the one 
differs from the genius of the other. The world can 
contain both, when Indians are allowed to govern 
themselves without interference from a different type 
of civilization. Bombay and Calcutta are rather excres- 
cences on the true body politic of India than normal, 
natural growths. They will regain their proper dimen- 
sions as the village life recovers itself. They will no 
longer suck away, at the extremities of the body, the 
life-blood which ought to nourish and support the 
village nerve-centres. 

Once more, the different provincial areas of India 
will obviously not remain in the confusion that is still 
too much in evidence. To-day, language areas which 
are obviously homogeneous are cut across in a manner 
that has sacrificed the genius of the people themselves 
to mere administrative convenience. The national 
Congress leaders, under the inspiration of Mahatma 
Gandhi, have already begun to remedy, in their own 
Congress affairs, the impossible conditions existing 
in British India. Let me take one instance which 
is very familiar to me. The Uriya-speaking people 
of Orissa have been linked, for purely adminis- 
trative purposes, with the Hindi-speaking province 
of Behar. Other Uriyas are to be found in the northern 
section of Madras. The whole language area is broken 
up. At one time Orissa was linked on to Bengal. Thus 
these Uriyas have been thrown: about from one province 
to another in hopeless confusion. Yet nowhere in the 



whole of India was there more need to appeal to 
regional patriotism in order to raise the Uriya villagers 
themselves from a poverty which has become more 
and more desperate. The National Congress has 
encouraged a much more rational division. It has 
taken the same course with regard to the different 
language areas in the Madras Presidency and also in 

Here, in the last instance I have mentioned, the 
Simon Report has made, on the whole, very sound 
suggestions. With regard also to the separation of Burma 
from India there seem to me good reasons advanced. 
In matters of administrative efficiency of this kind 
there are very many improvements of a valuable 
character suggested in the Report. I should personally 
regard, for example, the responsibility for law and 
order now to be handed over to the provincial Govern- 
ments as an important step in the right direction, if 
the responsibility is made complete and not surrounded 
by safeguards. On the other hand, to do this in the 
provinces while leaving the central Government 
practically unchanged is surely a wrong course to 
follow. That at least is my tentative judgment. 

On these and other matters, however, my own 
personal opinion should obviously not be pressed; 
for I have made it quite clear in my preface that 
technical administration matters of this kind, however 
important, are beyond the scope of what I have set 
out to explain. If, therefore, I am asked to map out 



in detail where I agree and where I disagree with the 
Report, I should answer that my main purpose does 
not lie in that direction. For I am an Englishman, and 
it cannot be repeated too often that the very meaning 
of self-government is that these things shall be 
settled by Indians themselves and not by Englishmen 
at all. The mistake from first to last has been the 
refusal to allow to Indians the initiative in these 
matters so that they might follow out to the end 
their own national ideals. 

They will undoubtedly make many mistakes. But 
the mistakes will be their own, and the blame for them 
will be their own. They will not be able any longer 
to lay them upon others and thus weaken themselves. 

In Great Britain, also, in spite of our favoured 
insular position, we had to proceed by the same 
method of making mistakes, however costly. We 
made them ourselves by the score. We had rebellions 
and revolutions. But all the while we were learning 
self-government. It is surely reasonable to expect that 
Indian national leaders will act in the same manner* 
The less adventurous souls may wish to remain still 
longer under the old shelter of British protection. 
The more adventurous spirits will seek to go forth 
into the unknown without a moment's delay. 

If it be argued that only destructive criticism is 
being offered in India and that constructive effort is 
needed, then surely I have made it plain from what I 
have already stated about Mahatma Gandhi's pro- 



gramme and the National Congress's acceptance of it, 
that such a general charge is unfair. Already in many 
ways, as I have seen with my own eyes in the villages, 
the National Congress workers have taken the lead 
in constructive work not always, it is true, wisely 
and well, but with an enthusiasm and self-sacrifice 
that have constantly put others to shame. 

For instance, in forwarding everywhere Mahatma 
Gandhi's village industrial khaddar scheme Congress 
workers have been performing a national economic 
service. I have seen the results in a steady growth of 
prosperity in those villages where the whole programme 
has been actively adopted. In order to help the villagers 
national volunteers, both men and women, have gone 
down to live and work in the villages among the poor 
people as their friends. The whole social programme 
of Mahatma Gandhi is being carried forward by these 
Congress workers. In consequence, untouchability is 
being given up, drink and drugs have been less used, 
the evils of child marriage have been lessened, and 
other important reforms have been carried through. 
Above all, it is noticeable that women have joined in 
the National Movement in ever-increasing numbers. 
The Simon Report has taken admirable notice of the 
importance of woman's share in the political sphere, 
and one of the best recommendations in the whole 
two volumes is that which encourages in every way 
the entrance of women into the political life of the 
country. Here is a point where the National Congress 


has already gone forward in the most active manner. 
For it is essentially a democratic body, and it has 
steadily set its face against any compromise on the 
question of class, creed, or sex. Women have exactly 
the same rights as men. Women have already been 
elected Presidents of the National Congress itself and 
on its executive committee. 

Thus, from what we see happening before our eyes 
under the impulse for social and economic reform which 
Mahatma Gandhi has given by his personal inspiration 
and enthusiasm, every part of the political organism 
will be transformed by Indian national leaders 
themselves from the present essentially foreign British 
rule into something more indigenous. The Indian 
people must choose their own leaders and follow them 
and correct them when they go astray. There is no 
other course that leads to freedom. But this is not 
possible until self-government, delegated from the 
people and responsible to the people, is handed over 
to Indian representatives not only in the provinces, 
but at the centre. 



It has been necessary to give at some length, through 
different illustrations, a picture of the times we are 
painfully passing through in India, times comparable 
only to some great religious and social revolution 
touching every side of human life and renewing the face 
of the earth. For it is just in relation to all this that 
the Commissioners who have given us the Simon 
Report have suffered a very grievous loss owing to the 
unfortunate conditions under which they went out. 
If only it had been possible for them, under the right 
guidance, to have travelled as private persons, meeting 
Mahatma Gandhi himself in an entirely informal 
manner in his own Ashram and sharing the atmosphere 
in which his followers spend their lives, then their 
ideas about the future constitution of India would have 
been profoundly modified. For they would have seen 
all those inner social forces at work which escape the 
notice of the ordinary traveller and of the government 
official also. 

At the height of the non-co-operation movement a 
wave of social reform swept over Bengal. I was present 
at a gathering in the country where the chief landlord 
of the district, a stout elderly man, had been called 
upon to take the chair. The other landlords were 
seated on each side of him in a semicircle and the poor 



people had gathered in vast numbers. The students 
sang stirring patriotic songs and everyone was deeply 
moved. The speaker, who had come down from the 
National Congress, called on the poor people to give 
up their bad habits of taking liquor and opium. At the 
close of his fervent address he called forward a ragged 
old man, who was evidently an opium-eater, to come 
forward and take the pledge. The shrunken, ragged 
man stood trembling before the audience and then 
raised his voice and said, pointing towards the Chair- 
man: "Yes, I will take the pledge if he also will take 
a pledge with me." The Chairman asked nervously in 
reply: "What pledge do you want me to take?" 
"Promise", said the man in rags, "that you will no 
longer oppress the poor!" The audience, who knew 
the old landlord's evil reputation for usury, took up the 
cry. "Yes," said they, "take the pledge with him!" 
Then the Chairman stood up before the meeting and 
acknowledged the wrong he had done, and the two 
old men took their mutual pledges together. 

It is the sight of incidents such as these, which are 
continually occurring in varied forms under the new 
national impulse, that I could have desired the Com- 
missioners to experience. For things like these leave 
behind them an ineffaceable impression of reality. 
They reveal what Mahatma Gandhi has called the 
inner Swaraj already won. They show human life 
taking new social forms. Knowing, therefore, from 
direct practical experience the great gulf fixed between 



the official world, with its huge secretariats and offices, 
and this real, concrete world of humanity in which 
my everyday life in India is passed, it is natural 
that I should miss from the Report the keen air 
of reform from within, which I have been breath- 
ing in India, especially in recent years, since 
Mahatma Gandhi captured the minds and hearts of 
the people. The miracle of change has been his own 

Bearing this in mind, I cannot but feel that the 
Commissioners' lack of insight into the Gandhi 
Movement and all it denotes represents such a serious 
failure in the Report that it must carry untoward 
consequences with it. It is true that Mahatma Gandhi 
is referred to, but it is usually with a shade of 
annoyance, as though he were wholly an obstructionist, 
and a dangerous rebel. His paramount importance as 
a constructive leader is not recognized at all. There is 
hardly a sign of clear, intimate knowledge of the 
positive changes he had made throughout the whole 
fabric of Indian society, literally revolutionizing, as 
no one has ever done for centuries past, the mentality 
of the Indian village people, taking away from them 
all sense of fear of those who have hitherto ruled over 
them, so that the old submission and subservience 
have departed. 1 

Once an Indian friend, who differed from me in 
politics, condemned in my presence the whole non- 
1 See Appendix VI 



co-operation movement, wherein I had taken an active 
and sympathetic part. 

"If only", he exclaimed bitterly, "we had spent our 
energies in working the Reform Constitution, which 
had been given us as a gift by Great Britain, instead 
of wasting our time in futile non-co-operation, we 
should have got at least a hundred per cent, further 
forward to-day than we are at present." 

He then began blaming Gandhi for this futility, as 
he called it. When he had ended his tirade I put to 
him a simple question. 

"Does the Indian villager to-day", I asked, "stand 
up to the Englishman more fearlessly than before? 
Has he become less afraid of the Government official, 
of the landowner, and of the police?" 

My friend paused suddenly, as if a new thought had 
struck him for the first time. 

"You're right," he said, "I never thought of that! 
Of course, there's no comparison ! The villager looks 
every man in the face to-day." 

What has really come to pass in India has been that 
which I have called a changed mentality. There has 
been attained, over large areas of the country, a new, 
fearless outlook that is nothing less than revolutionary. 
The consequences of this have been very far-reaching 
indeed. In many important respects, owing to this 
new movement, the Simon Report has become already 
out of date. For it has lost touch with the exceedingly 
rapid current of recent events. Nothing in the whole 

F 81 


of its two large volumes caused me such a shock of 
surprise as the following passage, which the Com- 
missioners have unanimously signed : 

"In writing this Report", they say, "we have 
made no allusion to the events of the last few 
months in India. In fact, the whole of our principal 
recommendations were arrived at and unanimously 
agreed upon before these events occurred. We 
have not altered a line of our Report on that 
account; for it is necessary to look beyond par- 
ticular incidents and to take a longer view." 

If the events referred to in this passage were merely 
ephemeral, if they represented only an effervescence 
rising up like a bubble on the surface of Indian Society, 
to die down again the next moment and disappear, 
then such placid lack of interest on the part of the 
Commissioners might have some justification behind it. 
But if, as appears to me quite certain, the whole 
structure of Indian Society is being refashioned under 
the stress of an impelling power from within, then to 
ignore altogether this new force, with its strong creative 
impulse, as though it were of no practical importance, 
is an attitude that can only lead in the end to very 
grievous misunderstanding. 

The Simon Report is in its true element when it 
deals with statistical details concerning the administra- 
tion, suggesting here and there the necessary changes 



for the smoother working of the present cumbrous 
machine, but it has not mastered the inner problems 
of the new national life of modern India, which is 
making breaches in the old political channels in every 
direction. It has as its objective, not the rapidly 
changing India, which will be still more vividly active 
in the near future, overpassing and sweeping away 
the landmarks of the past, but rather that stratified 
and stationary India which the officials have carefully 
tabulated and dealt with from time immemorial, 
treating it as if it would always remain the same. For, 
like the dullest of the French encyclopaedists on the 
eve of the French Revolution, the different secretariats 
of the Government of India continue to pour out 
their volumes of statistics, while the vast upheaval of 
human life from the lowest strata of society escapes 
their attention. 

Yet all the while, active, vital, emotional, throbbing 
with new energy, the National Movement is there, 
not only in India, but in every country of Asia, and it 
is very rapidly spreading over every part of Africa also. 
This is the one mighty revolutionary force pervading 
the Eastern world to-day. "India and the World's 
Peace" is the title of Norman AngelPs July number of 
Foreign Affairs. In this single issue we are shown that 
the repercussions of the Indian revolution are manifest 
in Palestine and Syria; in Indo-China and the Far 
East; in Cyrenaica, Tunis, and Egypt. 

To ignore so completely these revolutionary days 



might have been put down as an act of obscurantism; 
but the truth appears rather to have been that their 
minds were so overwhelmed with the mass of official 
material presented to them, their journeys were so 
scheduled for them according to tabulated routine, 
that they missed these interior forces in their main 
reckoning. That such a thing is quite possible I can 
vouch for personally by an incident that happened in 
my own experience in India with regard to a certain 
Deputy Commissioner in Delhi who shall remain 
anonymous. I came to him to ask him to take some 
interest in the National Movement, which was almost 
violently active outside his very door. In my eagerness, 
I offered to put him into close touch with it. He 
turned to me, with a weary look, from his desk: "Just 
look at those files", he said to me. That was all, but it 
spoke volumes. There were files of utterly useless 
petitions and counter-petitions which Sir John Simon 
and his Commissioners had wearily to wade through, 
and the same effect has been produced that was 
noticeable in my friend at Delhi. 

It was fully to be expected that a Report, dealing 
with the external matters of India only slightly known 
in the West, would at once command public attention 
and receive commendation in Great Britain. It has 
given the British people valuable information about 
many things which they very much wanted to know. 
It has also been written from the British point of view 
and is, therefore, easily intelligible for British readers. 



But in the long run it represents what is in reality a 
British solution of the Indian question, and it is 
impossible not to observe how, from the very first, 
even guardedly moderate Indian opinion has expressed 
its disapproval of the main conclusions reached. To 
Indians themselves the spectacular part of the first 
volume, called the Survey, was only a distraction. 
They did not need to go over all that material again. 
To them, the controversial issues came in the second 
volume. And it has been just at this point that the 
solutions proposed by the Commissioners have come 
under condemnation. The British newspapers have 
already discounted this condemnation as implying a 
hasty judgment. But this is not true. For the opposi- 
tion is led by such sober thinkers as the Right Hon. V. 
Srinavasa Sastri of Madras, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru 
of Allahabad, and Sir Chimanlal Setalvad of Bombay 
to mention three leading names only. The carefully 
considered verdict of three Indian statesmen such as 
these cannot easily be brushed aside as immaterial. 
Even the progressive Muhammadans appear to be 
dissatisfied by the reactionary character of the Report, 
and claim that the reforms should go much further. 

In spite of all this pronounced opposition, the 
expectation is still being continually held out in Great 
Britain that, after the first stormy outburst in India 
has passed over, most people will settle down and 
seek to be satisfied with the advantages that the Report 
offers. It is hoped that, as a thunderstorm which first 



breaks in a deluge of rain then clears the air, so a 
clearer political atmosphere will arise in India after 
the first thunderous storm has blown over. 

But such a hopeful forecast of the future is obviously 
at fault. These men who have criticized the Report 
are eminent Indians, and India is their own country. 
They have had their home-life in India, and their 
whole tradition has been intimately bound up with 
their own people. For long years they have pondered 
day and night over those very problems upon which 
the Commissioners have spent only two years. If now 
these opinions of the Simon Commissioners are 
imposed upon the people of India from without, 
against their own consent, this is likely to be only 
another instance of that purely British interference in 
Indian affairs which Indians more and more resent. 

Meanwhile the inner movement among the people 
is gathering strength from each fresh act of repression, 
as such movements have always done in every age. 
It is attracting like a magnet all the vitally progressive 
forces that lie within the field of its operation. The 
events that are taking place in India, the indomitable 
courage of the passive resisters, the bravery of the 
women, the heroism of the Sikhs all these events 
have struck the imagination of youth and great things 
are being accomplished. Common suffering and 
deepened sympathy are welding the people together. 
A changed mental outlook has come which carries us 
far beyond the recommendations of the Simon Report. 


I have dwelt at some length in my opening chapter 
upon the hardship and suffering that are being 
experienced both in India and Great Britain to-day 
as an after-effect of the European War; and I have 
pointed out how in the everyday life continually 
led in India among the poor this picture of human 
suffering has always been prominently before me. 
But it would be entirely wrong to treat all this as 
though it were an unmixed evil. On the contrary it 
represents to me one of the most hopeful means 
whereby India and Great Britain may in the end come 
to understand one another. For it brings with it, in 
Great Britain especially, a growing capacity to look the 
hard facts of life in the face without flinching. It 
disturbs our phlegmatic British equanimity and forces 
us to think intelligently. It drives us away from the 
comfortable, conventional view that everything would 
go well with us if only people did not make a fuss* 
Thus it sends us back to our own inner resources. 
All this is to the good, for it tends to make us humble. 
There is one other good in it all which is of no 
slight practical importance. In the heyday of imperial 
power, Great Britain had become so profoundly 
convinced of her own mission as the world's bene- 
factor, while making handsome profits all the while, 


that the Pharisaic spirit had crept in which kept 
saying, "Lord, I thank Thee that I am not as other 
men are." The hypocrisy of all this had become 
intolerable for the rest of the world. But the realization 
at last that others have become far more efficient than 
ourselves has humbled us. The imperialist mentality 
is by no means in the ascendant to-day in Great 
Britain as it was earlier in the century. 

One positive result has been reached. The Simon 
Commission Report has created a very deep interest 
about India that had never existed before. There has 
arisen throughout Great Britain an earnest desire to 
learn. Thus, through mutual suffering has come 
experience and humility; and these two things are 
equally necessary for a right understanding. Now, 
to-day, India and Great Britain are standing opposite 
each other with a far greater sense of reality and a 
much deeper seriousness of purpose. It is felt on all 
sides that we need the truth, the whole truth, and 
nothing but the truth. For, whatever happens, every- 
one is agreed that the present strained situation 
cannot go on indefinitely. Therefore, in what follows, 
I shall attempt to deal mainly with the larger issues 
which must frankly be faced by each one of us if we 
would judge aright the immediate constitutional 
problem with which the Simon Commission deals. 

Why, then, are Indians feeling intensely to-day, as 
they have never felt so acutely before, that though other 
important and highly necessary things may be put on 


one side, this struggle with Great Britain to obtain their 
own independence cannot possibly be postponed any 
longer? What is this insistent urge from within which 
has come into such prominence, as the one driving 
force behind the National Movement so strong and 
insistent that it has drawn thousands of men and 
women, young and old alike, fearlessly to face untold 
hardships without striking a blow, and to offer them- 
selves for rigorous imprisonment which may end in 
the ruin of themselves and their families ? 

There are different answers which might be given 
to these questions, but here I shall give one historical 
explanation which has strongly appealed to me for 
many years past; for it appears to me to go down to 
the root of the whole matter and to show the ultimate 
reason for the present political unrest. Much of what 
I shall give to Western readers for the first time in 
this book has already been thoroughly discussed in 
India through pamphlets and articles which I have 
published. It has, therefore, already been put to the 
test in India, and has passed through a critical 
examination over there. It may be taken as representing 
a general Indian point of view. 

Fifty years ago there was an important book written 
by Sir John Seeley concerning the relation at that 
time between India and Great Britain. It was called 
The Expansion of England. Seeley wrote it during a 
very pronounced imperialistic period in Great Britain's 
colonial history. It was that critical epoch when Africa 


was being divided up among the Western Powers 
Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Portugal, 
Belgium, were all staking out their claims as if the 
whole earth was to be divided up between them. 
Seeley's famous book bears all the marks of that 
"expansion" period, and its very title tells the same 
story. India is looked upon not so much as a distinct 
and separate entity in herself, but rather as forming 
a major part of England's vast world expansion. 
Little is said about any benefit that has accrued to 
India, though that is taken for granted. But the thesis, 
which is all-important to the historian, is the method 
whereby the small, grey-clouded, northern island of 
Great Britain by some providential good fortune 
came into possession of a whole continent in the 
South of Asia called India, and occupied it at a most 
critical time, when the colonies in North America had 
been lost. The failure on one side of the world was 
compensated by this unexpected success in the East. 
The American losses were made up to Great Britain 
by the Indian gains. 

Before discussing this conception of the inter- 
relationship between Great Britain and India it is 
well to pause for a moment and think seriously what 
the thesis itself implies and how humiliating to India 
it is. It represents a pre-war attitude that is almost 
inconceivable among students of history to-day. 
Whatever remains beneath the surface, as an inheri- 
tance of the race, Great Britain can hardly be so 



outspokenly self-confident and self-centred in her 
imperial ambitions as she was in Seeley's time, fifty 
years ago. For now it may truly be said that among 
thoughtful people all over the world the very word 
"Empire" has begun to have a sinister connotation 
and to demand an apology for using it. 

Seeley is quite frank in the picture which he draws 
of the early "expansion" of Great Britain in the East. 
He has no illusions about its actual character and 
conduct; and as history comes to be rewritten in a 
scientific manner and the truth told by incontestable 
documentary facts, the eighteenth century in India 
presents a very sordid picture on the British side. 
We came as freebooters, eager to make money quickly. 
We gambled with death in a horrible tropical climate. 
Some made their fortune and got away with it back 
to England; thousands died of typhoid or malaria, 
or through debauchery or drink. It was in no sense 
the sober, moral element of England that went out 
to the East. There was no possible basis of comparison 
between this Eastern exodus and that of the Pilgrim 
Fathers to the West. The two streams of colonization 
were poles apart. Seeley rightly points out that these 
British "nabobs" (as they were called) brought 
degradation to England on their return as well as to 
India during their short stay. There was a phrase 
invented "shaking the pagoda tree" which has 
passed into the English language. It reveals the whole 
sordid process. The amount of wealth that was ruth- 


lessly looted from India by these freebooting agents 
of a wealthy trading company is difficult to estimate. 
But it must have been indescribably great, and it 
sowed the seeds of poverty, degradation, and ignorance 
by overturning the whole economic fabric of society. 
I have already quoted in a book called Christ and 
Labour the documentary evidence for this from the 
East India Company's own records; how, after 
the most terrible recorded famine in Indian history, 
when one out of three of the population had 
perished from starvation, Warren Hastings, the 
Governor, congratulates the Company on having 
been able forcibly to keep up the revenue, and even 
to increase it. 

In a book quite recently written by Lieutenant- 
Colonel Arthur Osburn, D.S.O., under the title Must 
England Lose India? J a picture is given of this period, 
similar to Sir John Seeley's. From it I quote the 

"We raided and plundered, settled and intrigued 
on the rich coasts of India, much as our Danish 
ancestors had raided the 'Saxon shores' and the 
coast of East Anglia. Vast fortunes were brought 
back to England from India by unknown adven- 
turers, some of whom had been scarcely ten years 
absent and few questions were asked. So we 

1 Published by Alfred A. Knopf, London and New York. 



sucked India dry, until English observers com- 
pared India to a 'squeezed lemon*. Accounts 
written by Englishmen, after the first hundred 
years of English rule and English interference, 
make ghastly reading." 

The small book by Sir John Seeley is a blunt, out- 
spoken volume, and it bears out the picture of the 
eighteenth century given by Lieutenant-Colonel 
Osburn. Many of the things that are said in Seeley's 
Expansion are neither flattering to India nor creditable 
to Great Britain. But they deserve to be closely studied 
nevertheless; for they bring us to the heart of the 
whole problem. Here is one of the main points of his 

"If ever", he says, "there would arise in India a 
nationality movement similar to that which we 
have witnessed in Italy, the English power could 
not even make the resistance that was made in 
Italy by Austria but must succumb at once. For 
what means can England have, which is not a 
military state, of resisting the rebellion of two 
hundred and fifty millions of subjects? 

"Do you say, as we conquered them before, we 
could conquer them again? But I explained that 
we did not conquer them. I showed you that out 
of the army which won our victories, four-fifths 
consisted of native troops. That we were able to 



hire these native troops for service in India was 
due to the fact that the feeling of nationality had 
no existence there." 

So far as this passage is concerned, Sir John Seeley 
merely emphasizes the one point, which has often 
been referred to since, that England did not conquer 
India, but only holds dominion there on account of 
the people's own acquiescence in her rule. It is all the 
more necessary, therefore, to mark carefully the 
sentences which follow. Sir John Seeley continues : 

"Now if the feeling of a common nationality 
began to exist there only feebly; if, without 
inspiring any active desire to drive out the foreigner, 
it only created a notion that it was shameful to 
assist him in maintaining his dominion from 
that day, almost, our Empire would cease to exist. 
It is a condition of our Indian Empire that it 
should be held without any great effort. As it was 
acquired without much effort on the part of the 
English state, it must be retained in the same 
way. We are not prepared to bury millions and 
millions, or army upon army, in defending our 
acquisition. The moment India began to show 
herself what we so idly imagine her to be, a 
conquered nation, that moment we should re- 
cognize perforce the impossibility of retaining 



A very small movement often shows which way the 
wind is blowing. It is easy to mark the current of 
Indian opinion to-day by pointing out what words 
in this passage of Seeley's book have already become 
offensive. The word "native", for instance, is bitterly 
resented, when it is used by British residents as the 
common name for Indians themselves. There is no 
surer way for an Englishman in India to reveal his 
own mentality than this use of the word "native" 
instead of the word "Indian". So pronounced has this 
sentiment become in the last twenty years that the 
Government of India has forbidden the use of the 
term "native" in official documents. 

It may be of some value at this point to tell a story 
about Lord Morley with regard to such an offence. 
He was making a speech in the House of Commons 
wherein he desired to be specially friendly and con- 
ciliatory. It was an appeal for good will. But no one 
in the India Office had corrected his terminology, and 
he continually spoke of Indians as "natives". The 
moment that I read the full report of the speech, as 
it was cabled out to India, this one word jarred; 
and I was certain that it would give great offence. 
When I went over to the common room of the College, 
where our professors used to forgather before lectures, 
I came into the very thing I had feared. Our staff 
was almost entirely Indian and they were very kindly 
and friendly people. But as one of them, standing up 
in the midst of the circle of listeners, read to his 



audience the reported speech, he laid the very slightest 
emphasis on the word "natives" each time it occurred ; 
and I could see the listeners almost wince at each 
repetition. Half the conciliatory effect of Lord Morley's 
speech had been lost even on that cultured and friendly 
audience by this unconscious breach of good manners 
on Lord Morley's part. And yet it was Lord Morley 
himself who gave us, if I remember aright, the admir- 
able dictum that bad manners in India were worse than 
a blunder; they were a crime. A few years later, Mr. 
Charles Roberts, whose sensitive desire to respect 
Indian feeling had become almost a passion, referred 
to this story, which I had told in an earlier volume : 
He was greatly disturbed : "How is it possible", he said 
to me, "for us at this distance to avoid such an offence 
against good manners, when English men and women 
who have come over from India habitually use this 
word 'native* about the Indians in our presence?" 
I could only answer him that this was part of the 
tragedy of trying to rule a vast country like India at 
seven thousand miles' distance. Yet when national 
feeling is rising it is at these delicately sensitive points 
that the greatest injury is caused by the use of a 
clumsy word. "Our Empire in India" would give 
equal offence to-day. The revolt against any form of 
subjection has now sprung up from within. Every 
time that Mahatma Gandhi has gone through the 
villages, passing on from one province to another, he 
has stirred up wherever he has gone just that "feeling 


of a common nationality" which Sir John Seeley had 
claimed to be non-existent in India in his own day. 
We have seen, on every side, what Seeley calls "the 
notion created that it was shameful to assist the 
foreigner in maintaining his dominion". 


In seeking to represent the atmosphere of modern 
India, with all its ardent hopes, longings and aspira- 
tions, I have to go forward step by step with an argu- 
ment whose purport will become clear as I go on. I 
must ask the British reader's patience, because the 
whole meaning of the word "subjection" is foreign to 
him and he has never experienced its bad results. He 
little realizes how hard it is to escape from the vicious 
circle it creates when once this circle has been entered. 
There is a further passage in Seeley's book which 
gives as early as the year 1882 an abstract discussion 
of the subject of independence that now has become a 
matter of life and death to modern India. 

"If India", he says, "does at last begin to breathe 
as a single national whole and our own rule is perhaps 
doing more than ever was done by former Govern- 
ments to make this possible then there would be 
needed no explosion of despair. . . , The moment that 
a mutiny is threatened, which shall be no mere 
mutiny, but the expression of a universal feeling of 
nationality, at that same moment all hope is at an end 
as all desire ought to be at an end of preserving 
our Empire. For we are not really conquerors of 
India and we cannot rule India as conquerors; if we 
undertake to do so, it is not necessary to inquire 


whether we could succeed; for we should assuredly be 
ruined financially by the mere attempt." 

One thing appears to me to come out with con- 
spicuous clearness. Indian independence is primarily a 
moral rather than a political factor. The harm that is 
being done by foreign rule is seen by Seeley to be 
psychological. It represents a weakening of the mental 
and moral constitution. Independence becomes thus a 
necessity, if the moral fibre of Indian manhood and 
Indian womanhood is to be restored. 

Mahatma Gandhi has constantly called this sub- 
servience, which is the result of long subjection, 
"slave mentality". The real problem calling for solu- 
tion is the cost to character by which the protection of a 
foreign Government is being obtained. If it means the 
sacrifice of self-initiative in the governed, if it implies 
the inner weakening of the morale of those who are 
"protected", then the price is far too heavy. For this 
kind of debt has a strange way of mounting up, with 
its compound interest, until it is irretrievable. Bank-* 
ruptcy of moral character follows as the inevitable result. 

It is just at this point that Seeley's two historical 
maxims come in, towards which this long argument 
has been leading. The former of these two may be 
quoted in Seeley's own words as follows : 

"Subjection for a long time to a foreign yoke is 
one of the most potent causes of national deteriora- 



This sentence must not be regarded as the irre- 
sponsible utterance of a casual thinker. On the con- 
trary, it is the historical judgment of one of the most 
careful and judicial historians of the nineteenth century. 
It has its own definite and immediate relation to the 
Indian problem. Every word of this closely packed 
sentence needs to be very carefully noted. Not every 
subjection, but subjection for a long time, to a foreign 
yoke is one of the most potent causes of national 

There are times in a people's history when the 

shock of a foreign dominion may bring life instead of 

death. Personally, as one who has made a special,study 

of Indian history, I feel certain that there is much to 

be said for the belief that the shock of the Western 

impact upon the East, which came through the 

British connection, has brought new life with it to a 

remarkable degree. The great names in Indian history 

since the days of Raja Ram Mohan* Roy represent a 

gallery of portraits of which any nation in the world 

may be proud. Compared with the eighteenth century, 

there can hardly be any question that the succeeding 

nineteenth century in India was an age of renaissance. 

The religious life of Hindu India received a marvellous 

inspiration, a new hope, and a new fulfilment. To 

take one instance only, the complete recovery of the 

Upanishad teaching stands out as a great landmark in 

the higher thinking of the human race. Islam also 

had its own revival. It shook itself free from an 



enslaving illiteracy. The ancient Syrian Christian 
Church of Malabar emerged from the slumber of 
ages as a caste-ridden community and sprang forward 
to new life. Missionary enterprise from without shook 
the whole social fabric of India. Hinduism was stirred 
to its depths in its reaction against this invasion of 
new ideas and set its own house in order. The ban 
of untouchability for the first time began to show 
signs of receding. Out of this very deep religious 
ferment, which was stirred up by the new leaven from 
the West, fresh vernacular literatures came to birth. 
The living languages of the people of India, which are 
employed in every day life, blossomed into song. The 
genius of art peculiar to India flourished in a thousand 
ways. Thus the nineteenth century in India had its 
own true greatness; and the shock from the West, 
however brutal in some of its forms, produced certain 
remarkable results in a quickened and creative life. 
To admit this is by no means to condone the methods 
whereby the subjection of India took place, or the 
ruthless and unscrupulous means that were employed 
in its accomplishment. 

But at the same, time, when the first quickening 
effects from foreign conquest had passed away, the 
evils that are inherent in such a system began to 
appear. The dead hand of external authority exercised 
from above proceeded to check and hinder the new 
living spiritual growth. The inevitable conflict be- 
tween the inner spirit and external authority arose 



in an active form and has continued to increase ever 

For the bad effect of foreign rule is this, that it can 
never assimilate itself to the growing needs of an 
awakening people. It is not immediately sensitive to 
new development and therefore proceeds to crush 
it. Thus it becomes repressive rather than re- 
sponsive. The shock from abroad which gave life at 
one epoch, when prolonged beyond all endurance, 
brings death. 

If we return to Seeley's historical maxim that 
prolonged subjection to a foreign rule brings national 
deterioration we can now see how true it is with 
regard to India. For since the British occupation 
began nearly two hundred years have passed and 
India is still ruled by foreigners. Every year that 
Indians still remain in subjection to Great Britain the 
moral and national deterioration must strike deeper. 
Therefore the question is being asked by every 
thinking Indian, "How much longer is India to con- 
tinue in the world as a subject people? Is not every 
year that passes, while India still remains in subjec- 
tion, only adding to the moral degradation?" 

Here is the one hard, insoluble fact of current 
Indian history which has to be faced. According to 
Seeley's own verdict, for India to remain any longer 
in a state of subjection within the British Empire must 
lead to still further national deterioration. Something, 
therefore, must be done drastically before it is too late. 



The second of the two historical maxims which Sir 
John Seeley puts forward is really the corollary of the 
former. It forces the Indian people into a still more 
intractable dilemma. For he faces frankly the ultimate 
question of the withdrawal of the British Government 
from India, and regards such a step as a well-nigh 
fatal calamity. In explaining his point he uses the fol- 
lowing sentence, which has been one of the most 
frequently quoted from his book. He says: 

"To withdraw the British Government from a 
country like India, which has become dependent on 
it, and which we have made incapable of depending 
on anything else, would be the most inexcusable 
of all conceivable crimes and might cause the 
most stupendous of all conceivable calamities." 

This relative clause, "which we have made incapable 
of depending on anything else," can have only one 
meaning. It implies that the British Government has 
made the Indian people so weak and defenceless that 
they have become unable to depend on their own 
resources if any occasion arose obliging them to offer 
their own defence against attack from outside. It 
implies also that no end to this weakening process is 
in sight. The British historian can look forward to no 
period wherein India will be able to depend on her 
own resources for her own protection. 
"To withdraw the British Government from India/* 



he says, "would be the most inexcusable of all con- 
ceivable crimes." Why is this ? Because, to quote once 
more his fatal words, "we have made India incapable 
of depending on anything else". And again he writes 
as follows: "It is to be feared that the British rule 
may have diminished whatever little power of this sort 
India may have originally possessed". 

I have quoted these blunt, harsh, and unpalatable 
sentences again and again because I want to drive 
home to the mind of the reader in the West what 
that deterioration means concerning which Sir John 
Seeley speaks in his earlier maxim. It shows the depth 
of humiliation that India has reached as a people by 
tamely submitting to a foreign yoke without making 
any strong united effort to throw off the subjection. 
Sir John Seeley himself was looking at the whole 
problem from a purely detached and scientific stand- 
point, as a curiously interesting phenomenon in human 
history. At the time of writing it did not intimately 
concern himself. But to Indians the question must 
necessarily be acutely personal. Just in proportion to 
the awakening of their national consciousness the 
humiliation of their own utterly dependent state will 
be felt. 

Thus the necessary trend of events in India, accord- 
ing to this great historian, shows that she is becoming 
every year more and more helpless, more and more 
unable to evolve out of her own resources a stable 
form of government, more and more incapable of 



depending on anything else except the paramount 
British power. Nevertheless, this very course leads her 
downhill to the pit of destruction. 

I can remember vividly even to-day how I went to 
Mr. Humphreys, the kindly Deputy Commissioner of 
Delhi, in the year 1907, at the time of Lala Lajpat 
Rai's arrest and imprisonment without trial, and pro- 
tested that such an arrest without any trial was the 
surest way to drive Indians to despair. He used the 
very same argument as Seeley, and told me that it 
was necessary to do these harsh things, and treat 
Indians not as grown-up people but as wards of the 
British Government, because they had become so 
entirely helpless and defenceless that they must be 
protected even against themselves. The one thing that 
had to be observed at all cost in India was the Pax 
Britannica. Anything else would only result in the 
Pathans and Afridis and Afghans coming over the 
frontier and ruining the country. After all, law and 
order were of primary importance: all else was 

This conversation with Mr. Humphreys almost 
drove me to despair at the time. He did not 
seem to realize that the very argument he was 
using was the greatest condemnation of British 
rule; for what could be more tragic than to make 
a whole people, who had once been so great and 
noble, entirely and utterly defenceless ? Even if many 
blessings had been conferred, this was undoubtedly a 



curse. And yet in reality it was difficult at that time 
not to acknowledge the truth of what Mr. Humphreys 
had said. For Lord Morley's so-called liberal policy 
had brought with it very little salutary change. 
Even in the Civil Services practically all the chief 
responsible posts were still kept for Europeans. 
India was still a paternal despotism of an absolute 
character, ruled even in small details from Whitehall, 
seven thousand miles distant, and with no autonomous 
control. How far this autocratic rule had gone can 
hardly even be imagined in a free country like England, 
where things are so entirely different; or in Canada, 
where a career leading right up to the highest position 
of all is open to every man and every woman also. 
And I am afraid that an impartial historian would 
have to relate that national deterioration had been 
going on side by side with this sense of dependence. 
The two things have been almost interchangeable. 

At last I, for one, have come to believe that, owing 
to the crushing military burden of a foreign army and 
a foreign civil service, the state of the peasantry, 
who have to pay the land tax in order to keep 
up this heavy expenditure, has grown recently worse 
instead of better. Meanwhile the lack' of initiative 
and the sense of helplessness produced by foreign rule 
in the minds of the educated classes have led here 
also to a steady deterioration. Even such a conservative 
administrator as Sir Bamfylde Fuller has just written 
of a recent visit to Bengal, "In material prosperity I 


could see no signs of advancement among the common 
people. Villages and bazaars were still overhung by a 
cloud of poverty and squalor". 

The rule of the British in India has often been 
regarded as parallel to that of the Roman Empire in 
ancient times, and there are many points at which the 
analogy holds good. But the parallel needs to be 
drawn out to its conclusion. The Romans built up a 
costly system of roads and walls, which were chiefly 
for strategic purposes. But when the Roman rulers 
were at last obliged to leave the shores of Britain the 
miserable inhabitants, who had become by slow 
degrees soft and defenceless under Roman protection, 
gazed longingly after their own conquerors as the 
Roman ships departed, carrying the troops away; for 
they had become too weakened by foreign protection 
to have any powers of self-defence left in them. 
History goes on to show how easily they succumbed 
to the more hardy invaders from the mainland of 
Europe who had not at any time been enervated by 
this protectionist Roman rule. 

Thus we have reached in our argument, as we have 
followed closely Sir John Seeley's thesis, a position 
utterly intolerable to anyone who has self-respect. 
For Seeley appears to regard the people of India as 
having so entirely lost their powers of self-govern- 
ment and self-defence that in the end it would be 
nothing less than a crime of the worst character for 
Great Britain to leave them to themselves. This 



standpoint is taken again and again in The Expansion 
of England and it cannot possibly be treated lightly, as 
though it was of no historical importance. When 
seriously considered, it is in no sense whatever a 
thing to be proud of, that Great Britain has 
brought India into this false positioii. Even if 
the blame must be shared with the people of 
India themselves who were in such a state of 
weakness when the British entered India by sea 
and seized administrative power, this does not really 
diminish the blame that falls to the share of Great 
Britain. I will quote one other tragically illuminating 
passage from Seeley's Expansion: 

"India," he writes, "is of all countries that 
which is least capable of evolving out of itself a 
stable Government, And it is to be feared that the 
British rule may have diminished whatever little 
power of this sort India may have originally 

I have ventured to put this last sentence in 
italics, and surely it is a fatal confession for the 
English historian to make. If we think it out, it offers 
an altogether impossible prospect for a high-spirited 
people to contemplate. For it implies perpetual 
dependence, and subjection to the yoke of Great 

Thus we have really come to a complete deadlock 



in following out Sir John Seeley's closely reasoned 
argument. The situation is manifestly this, that if 
dependence and subjection to the foreign rule of the 
British Empire are to continue, then national deteriora- 
tion is certain to continue with it. Yet if India struggles 
to be free and independent, then any withdrawal from 
her present position as a subject people becomes 
more and more unattainable in practice because the 
support and protection of Great Britain has become a 
perpetual necessity. The British rule has diminished 
"whatever little power of this sort India may have 
originally possessed". 

In order to drive home the point before I turn to 
its remedy and to the method of India's recovery, 
let me give one other incident that happened while I 
was at Delhi and has been branded on my memory 
ever since. There had been at Aligarh a dispute between 
the students and the European staff. This had led to 
extreme bitterness. Then a sudden action on the part 
of the European Principal had provoked a college 
strike. The students refused to go back until their 
wrongs were righted. Early one morning at Delhi, 
Maulvi Nazir Ahmed and Munshi Zaka Ullah, whom 
I revered most deeply for their singular beauty of 
character, came to me, with tears in their eyes, to 
tell me that the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College 
at Aligarh, which was the one darling treasure of their 
hearts in their old age, was on the point of ruin. 
They asked me to come with them to Aligarh itself. 



We went together and I could feel, without a word 
being said, the outraged spirit of the students their 
resentment, their sense of humiliation, their feelings 
of injustice. During that very night, when we were 
present at Aligarh, it flamed forth in a literal deed. 
For the insulted students burnt their college furniture 
their beds and mattresses, their tables and books. 
The flames mounted to the skies. They were a symbol 
of the student's own flaming indignation. After the 
strike was all over, and the students had gone back, 
and the disturbance was at an end, I asked from 
Maulvi Nazir Ahmed, what words of advice he had 
spoken to the students. He told me that he had said 
to them as follows: "You are slaves. What can slaves 
do? Get back to your books and work. You are not 
free men, but slaves". 

These terrible words haunted me like an evil 
dream. Was that all the counsel he was able to give 
these young men at the very opening of their lives ? 
Was that in very truth these students' true position? 
Were they slaves? The more I thought over it the 
more I found that the words had truth in them. This 
foreign subjection was a servitude of the soul, more 
insidious perhaps than any outward slavery, and none 
the less literally true. 


Since this inescapable logic of Seeley with regard to 
the effect of foreign rule is not understood in the 
West and the sole blame for their own helpless con- 
dition is generally placed on Indians themselves, it 
has been necessary for me to labour the main argument 
of Seeley's book over and over again in order to drive 
home its serious implications. We can see from it that 
India has become by long subjection involved in a 
completely vicious circle. Whatever way we may turn 
in our argument, the fatal circle hems us in. 

For many years after I had made my home in India 
and had become identified with her people this 
problem of her destiny remained with me as a hard, 
insoluble fact of daily life. Its brutally cold logic 
gripped my mind. Every day that passed I could see 
further into the grim reality of it ; yet morally my whole 
soul revolted against such an intolerably weak con- 
clusion, and I longed to find some way of breaking 
through the vicious circle itself in order to obtain 

In this same connection, during this earlier period 
of my life in India the picture of some gradual 
development had attracted me, whereby power should 
be handed over little by little to the Indian people 
themselves with the necessary safeguards* These safe- 



guards should ensure that the new powers shall be 
exercised aright. I could see that this ideal had been 
at the back of the minds of the best of my own fellow- 
countrymen from the very first. 

Men like Elphinstone and Monro, Lawrence and 
Edwards, Ripon and Bright, had held it fast as an 
article of faith. The Queen's Proclamation of 1858 
had made it a political principle, however far practice 
had fallen short and stultified it. The late Mr. G. K. 
Gokhale, who was one of the noblest statesmen India 
has ever produced, took up this same position of a 
gradual devolution of power, and he founded the 
"Servants of India Society" with this definite model 
in view. Regeneration of his country, he firmly 
believed, could not be attained amid a hurricane of 
political excitement, but only step by step. In such a 
gradual process it was of the essence of the solution 
of the problem to enlist the support of the British 
people by appeals to their better nature. He had no 
illusions as to the difficulties of the course to be pur- 
sued. He seemed to know them all beforehand; and 
yet his faith remained firm to the end, even after 
the heart-breaking experience of a Royal Com- 
mission which wasted the last years of his life by its 

But those who still hold this view, as I once held it 
in all sincerity, have to answer the problem of rela- 
tivity, which is bound up with it. While time slips by 
further degeneracy is always taking place, and so the 



whole problem begins all over again. How can we get 
over the fact, which Seeley points out, that any 
further prolongation of British rule is certain to lead 
to fresh dependence and fresh degeneracy? The 
vicious circle is not escaped so easily as that. 

Again, does not the old fatal leaning on Great 
Britain ruin everything ? Is not this the very thing to 
be got rid of, if health is to return in the body politic? 
It is the old problem of "patronizing" the poor, only 
in another form. Anyone who has worked in a slum 
parish in London knows how harmful in the long run 
such patronizing from those who stand outside may 
become. My own experience in this direction at 
Walworth, in South-East London, stood me in good 
stead when I went to India. It made me profoundly 
distrust such paternal ways. It was easy to see that 
doles of Home Rule, meticulously meted out and 
rationed at the will of the rulers, could never create 
a new vital force within the soul. The "boon" theory 
simply did not work: it did more harm than good. 
Thus experience itself had already pointed out to 
me that this way of working out the problem in terms 
of gradual progress suffered from one defect. There 
was no inner strength in it, no inner resource whereby 
India might be rescued by her own efforts out of the 
evil that had hemmed her in on every side. 

Desperate diseases demand desperate remedies and 
even at times require surgical operations. There is no 
permanent remedy in poultices when the centre of 

H 113 


the disease is deep down within the body. Even if the 
outward dependence on Great Britain became slowly 
attenuated year by year, and different Reform Acts 
gave certain privileges and responsibilities which had 
not been offered before, nevertheless all these things 
would be a gift from without, an act of patronizing 
condescension. They would come within the scope of 
what I have called the "boon theory". Therefore, in 
respect to India, they would be a weakness rather 
than a strength to those who received them. In the 
interval, while these doles were being distributed 
and fought over, true independence would all the 
while be fatally undermined. The old evil habit of 
looking to Great Britain for everything in a defenceless 
sort of way would still remain. The internal disease 
which was the root of all the mischief would continue 
not merely uncured, but even more active than ever 

Thus I came to realize by the force of sheer practical 
experience that the process of petitioning Great Britain 
and passively accepting whatever gifts or boons could 
be extracted from that quarter could not be at all 
relied on. Such an evolutionary remedy had one fatal 
flaw in it: it did not evolve. It only wandered round 
and round in a maze from which there was no way out. 
It therefore appeared to me practically certain that the 
only way of recovery was through some vital upheaval 
from within. The explosive force needed for such an 
internal upheaval must be generated within the soul 


of India itself. It could not come through concessions 
and proclamations. 

At one time it appeared to me to be possible that 
the primitive Christian way of life might represent 
the one explosive inner force needed ; and I still hold 
to this view of things, but in a form so profoundly 
changed as to represent almost a new discovery of 
Christ and a new interpretation of His way, about 
which I hope to write in due course. I had gone out to 
India originally in and through a missionary society 
the Cambridge University Mission in Delhi. But I 
found in missionary efforts as they were carried on in 
India the conventional touch of a religious imperialism 
which had the same blighting effect on the inner self- 
determination of Indian Christians as the ordinary 
political imperialism had upon Indians who were not 
Christians. For where the Christian missionary effort 
came from the West it carried with it an atmosphere 
of unintentional patronage that was directly contrary 
to the way of life which Christ Himself taught and 
practised. Christ's whole spirit was that of meekness 
and lowliness of heart. He was ever by the side of 
the oppressed, and never by any stretch of imagination 
on the side of the oppressor. I could not recognize 
therefore in a "Church and Empire" creed any 
representation of the lowly Man of Nazareth, who 
suffered crucifixion at the hand of the authorities in 
Church and State alike. For ten years of long inner 
conflict I wrestled with this problem of conscience, 


until at last my freedom was won. Then I became ,a 
wanderer in the world, gladly entering into living touch 
with all those who would receive me, of whatever class 
or creed or religious faith. Not without a prolonged 
moral struggle was such independence realized; and 
it was the dynamic force of a great personal character, 
Rabindranath Tagore, entering at a critical moment 
into my life, that really carried me through. But the 
struggle served me in good stead. For it has enabled 
me to understand in a peculiarly sensitive manner some- 
thing of what Indians themselves have individually 
experienced and suffered in their own struggle to gain 
release from external bondage. It also pointed the way 
to deliverance. 

During these years, the pitiable condition of India, 
as a subject country, without any will of her own, 
weighed me down. I could see that those who had come 
from without, the British rulers, insisted on disposing 
India's destiny in their own dull, dogged way, whether 
Indians desired it or not. They were certain that they 
knew best and that Indians could not look after 
themselves. My whole soul revolted against this, and 
it seemed so utterly unfair and unjust to treat a 
highly intellectual people in this manner. The racial 
prejudice which I saw at work in conjunction with 
this superior air of domination shocked me even more 
deeply. It made confusion even worse confounded, 
and led to an isolation between the two races that was 
unnatural and inhuman. Yet at the same time it 



almost appeared that as an Englishman I could not 
avoid being a party to it all ; this became a very great 
burden to me. 

Therefore it kept coming into my mind to try to 
find a way out; and at first it was not easy to see what 
could be done. Then one day it was borne in upon me 
that I might somehow be able to help with regard to 
those Indians who had gone abroad into the British 
colonies and dominions; and here it was, in this new 
experience, that I saw with my own eyes the humiliating 
position of inferiority wherein Indian citizens were 
placed, and how at every turn they were suffering 
from injustice and unequal treatment. It was in Fiji 
and South Africa that the iron entered into my soul 
at the time when I went among the Indian settlers, 
who had originally gone out under a vicious system 
of labour called "indentured labour" and had received 
treatment which made racial equality unthinkable. 
They were known as "coolies" and treated in a 
subject manner. It was there also that for the first 
time I met Mahatma Gandhi. That meeting was to 
revolutionize and upset my own thinking as it has 
upset the thinking of many others since. Of one thing 
I have become at last convinced by the hardest 
logic of events that unless Indians themselves are 
both morally and politically independent, the sub- 
jection which has gone so deep as to injure and 
deform the soul will never be removed. They will be 
treated still as "coolies" and not as free men. 



All my life through I have been a student and a 
thinker and a reader of books, eager indeed at every 
turn to put thought to the test of action, but con- 
stitutionally unwilling and unfitted to take a leading 
part in such action except on very rare occasions. 
Wherever such occasions have arisen I have shrunk 
back as quickly as possible, because I have felt the 
political path to be something apart from my own. 
But I am now convinced, without any mental wavering 
or hesitation, that except complete independence, 
moral as well as political, is open for India to grasp 
with both hands she will never shake herself free from 
the subservience which has so enervated her. The 
vicious circle wherein she has become involved cannot 
otherwise be broken through. 

On whichever side I look to-day, while con- 
sidering the Indian future on the side of trade 
and commerce; on the side of industry and labour; 
on the side of social reform and religious readjustment; 
on the side of literature, art and music I can see the 
creative impulse sustained and the inward energy of 
the soul of the people responsive only when the moral 
standpoint of manly and womanly independence has 
been reached. I can see no creative life, but rather an 
enervated and enfeebled existence, if this perpetual 
dependence goes on, and if mere hobbling along 
with the help of crutches continues. 

A Canadian, an Australian, can go wherever he 
pleases without asking "by your leave" from 


one. The world's charter of freedom is his* He 
is independent in every sense of the word. But 
an Indian is made to feel, wherever he goes, that 
he is restricted. Even in England itself restrictions 
bind him on every side, while in the Dominions he 
is not allowed even to land except on a ticket of 
leave. If he seeks residence he is politely refused. 
He is told that Australia is "white". In his own 
country itself his steps are dogged by the secret 
police if he has patriotic longings or if he becomes 
a member of a national congress organization. I have 
learnt by personal experience everything I have 
written down in this respect, and I know what this 
subjection means. 

If this then has been my experience, bitter and 
deep, can it be realized with what intensity of relief 
I turned from this conservative process, which Mr. 
Gokhale stood for, to the sharp contrast of the 
volcanic personality of Mahatma Gandhi? For there 
had long seemed to be only one pathway which could 
lead out of this entangling dilemma and bring India 
release. If India could find, before it was too late, some 
God-given moral genius who could stir up, not in one 
province only, but throughout the whole country, the 
spirit of moral revolt and independence, then there 
might be some hope. If India could produce, out of 
her own store of inner resources, such an inspiring 
and unifying personality, then all might be well. But 
if no such religious and moral genius appeared, then 



India's subjection, moral as well as physical, must go 
on interminably. 

And surely this is just what has occurred, however 
disturbing the sudden event may be to our own con- 
ventional mode of thinking. For at this most critical 
time of all in Indian history, when subjection and 
dependence, outward and inward alike, were becoming 
no longer bearable or supportable, India has brought 
forth one of her own children who has uttered in his 
own way the words, "Be free: be slaves no longer!" 
and a new fearlessness has entered the heart. Men and 
women are ready, by their thousands, to go to prison 
for the sake of freedom. Instead of cringing to the 
dust they are holding their heads high. The Indian 
poet, Rabindranath Tagore, has proclaimed in an 
immortal poem this regenerating faith and purpose: 
"Where the head is held high and the mind is without 
fear.-. . . Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let 
my country awake". What the poet has sung and 
inspired, Mahatma Gandhi has put into action. The 
mind of India is without fear to-day and her head is 
held high among the nations. 

It is true that with such a volcanic force as the 
personality of Mahatma Gandhi there is bound to be 
much destruction. Some pulling down will be witnessed 
before the building up can be seen. Prophets have 
always been men of strange, uncouth ways which 
shock our normal habits. We must expect that. But 
the essential factor after all is the new atmosphere, 



the new spirit, the new life-impulse from beneath, 
which has forced its way to the surface. This, in the 
end, will be creative instead of destructive. For this 
prophet of our own age, by himself living the life of 
fearlessness, has revealed to us all, and especially to 
his own people, the hidden power of a living freedom 
from within. He has taught us afresh, in new prophetic 
ways, the old lesson of prophecy of all ages, never to 
depend on external resources, or even on external 
authority, but upon ourselves. My heart has gone out 
along with that appeal, and I have a great hope that 
by setting out upon this pathway of inner freedom the 
full manhood and womanhood of independence will be 
reached in India at last. 

So then it has been with the intense joy of mental 
and spiritual deliverance from an intolerable burden 
that I have watched in India the actual outburst of 
such an inner explosive force as that which occurred 
when Mahatma Gandhi spoke to the heart of India, 
not once or twice only, the releasing words "Be free!" 
and the heart of India responded. In a sudden moment 
her fetters began to be loosened, her subjection to 
disappear, and the pathway of freedom was opened. 

In the atmosphere of gradual evolution such 
as Mr. Gokhale had outlined, I have had not one 
of my fundamental doubts answered. They offer 
palliatives rather than incisive remedies. They 
fail to reach the centre of India's deep-seated 
disease of "slave mentality". They only prolong the 



dependence of India on Great Britain. Along that line 
of advance there has been no vision before me of 
final deliverance. For the tragic fact always remains 
that independence becomes undermined as soon as 
ever it is built up. 

But when I turn from this doubtful method of 
safeguarded reforms to the more direct treatment of 
Mahatma Gandhi, I can see that he cuts at the very 
roots of the disease. He is like a skilled surgeon per- 
forming an operation rather than a physician adminis- 
tering soothing drugs. And as his surgeon's knife cuts , 
deep we can see at once the recovery of the patient 
beginning to take place the recovery of self-respect, 
the regaining of true manhood and womanhood, the 
new spirit of independence. 

But this freedom must be entirely unfettered; for 
in that lies its moral value. The independence must be 
unconditioned; for here again to impose conditions 
would destroy its moral content. That is the one 
lesson which has been taught by these continual 
struggles of non-co-operation. There can be no half- 
way house to loiter in while the struggle is going on. 
There can be no dallying in an intermediate stage 
where the great principles of freedom become con- 
fused and the swift currents of idealism run sluggish. 
Freedom rests ultimately in the mind* It is only by 
the exercise of freedom in the soul itself that new 
freedom can be won* The process is not unlike that of 
learning to walk when a child is young. The only 



way he learns is by constant falling and rising again 
from the ground. Every fall and every rise make the 
power of walking more perfect until the process itself 
becomes instinctive. So a protected India, with 
innumerable safeguards, can only develop weakness. 
But an India that launches out boldly into its own 
freedom under the inspiration of a moral genius like 
Mahatma Gandhi may fall back a hundred times, 
but in the long run it will stand upon its own feet with 
its manhood and womanhood restored to their full 
stature. No one but a prophet can bring to the heart 
of India in her present bondage the inward freedom 
which her soul so passionately desires. 



After making this rapid survey of the fundamental 
conditions of the problem, with Sir John Seeley as 
our guide, it is necessary now to examine the whole 
position and groundwork afresh from a different 
angle. The chapters which follow will partly cover the 
ground which Seeley surveyed with such wonderful 
prescience. But while he only considered the foreign 
aspect of the British rule, as leading to internal weak- 
ness in India, what follows will deal rather with the 
relation between the two races, the Indian and the 
British, and the race friction that has been engendered. 
It will be seen from this new survey, when it is com- 
pleted, that political relations between the two 
countries have here, also, come to such a pass and 
produced such a vicious circle of evil that the sooner 
the tension is relaxed and freedom from political 
domination is established the better. 

It is obvious that this racial relation, with which 
the Simon Commissioners hardly deal at all, must 
vitally affect our judgment concerning the adequacy 
of .their Report as a document of first importance. 
If there were no racial problem involved, things might 
still proceed gradually forward without serious incon- 
venience. But if every day the racial friction between 
the two countries must inevitably increase, then it is 



impossible to keep the decision of vital matters any 
longer in suspense. The strain must be relieved. 

As we go over this new ground we can see that 
the constant racial treatment of Indians as subjects 
and inferiors has had in one important direction 
the stirring effect of a yeasty ferment. It has now 
leavened India through and through. For a distinct 
race consciousness has come up to the surface from 
within which cannot possibly be any longer suppressed. 
In a very definite sense this ferment that we are 
witnessing to-day must be regarded as a sign of new 
life and not of decay: it is surely preferable to the 
passive submissiveness of earlier bygone days. In its 
own way it may be called the partial fulfilment of what 
Macaulay and the liberal statesmen of the nineteenth 
century looked forward to as the goal of all their 
endeavours. For they had the courage and the wisdom 
to declare, as far back as a century ago, that it would 
be the proudest day in the annals of the history of 
Great Britain when India should gain her freedom. 

But in all that they were attempting, early in the 
nineteenth century, they imagined a peaceful and not 
a hostile conclusion to the British occupation. They 
actually pictured to themselves, and Macaulay des- 
cribed in writing, a mutual friendship between the 
two countries growing ever closer and closer. 1 They 

1 Sir Henry Lawrence wrote in 1844, "Let us so conduct our- 
selves in our civil and military relations that,when the connexion 
between India and Great Britain ceases, it may do so, not with 
convulsions, but with mutual esteem and affection." 



looked forward to a goodwill permanently and securely 
established even after independence had been reached. 
They did not put any trust in half measures, but had 
the fullest belief that freedom alone can produce 
freedom; that liberty is only gained by the exercise 
of liberty. Just as with a person learning the art of 
swimming, India had to make the plunge into liberty 
to learn the art of using it rightly. It may even still be 
possible that after the surging flood of national feeling 
in the younger generation has passed over, carrying 
the older people with it on its rising tide, this ancient 
foundation of goodwill and friendship, which our 
forefathers laid so well, will reappear above the 
surface of the current. But in what is happening to-day 
there is a note of hostility and bitterness which has 
not been heard before. This new portent should make 
the people of Great Britain pause in order to seek its 
remedy before it is too late. 

Let us go back to Macaulay and the Reform Age 
in order to gain our lessons from it for the preselit 
time. Three remarkable steps were taken, during the 
years 1832 to 1834, which made that reform epoch a 
turning-point in the history of Great Britain. First 
of all there was the new charter of racial and religious 
equality in India, which was passed by Parliament in 
1833. Secondly, the Abolition of Slavery throughout 
the British colonies followed a year later. Along with 
these two emancipating Acts, of the first importance, 
came the Reform Act itself, whereby the rotten 


boroughs were swept away and popular government 
in Britain was established through the extension of 
the franchise on a wide basis. The occasion was most 
critical; for civil war was not far distant. But in all 
three matters the British Parliament did the right 
thing at the right time. 

It was a great blow to all that was happening in 
India and Great Britain that at such a unique time as 
this Raja Ram Mohan Roy, by far the noblest reformer 
of the age, should meet his death before his own work 
was fulfilled. But just before he died on September 27, 
1833, ^ e haikd the assured hope of these three reform 
measures as the beginning of a new dawn of freedom 
for mankind. To a much greater extent than any other 
figure, he stands out not only as the champion of 
immediate social reform, but also as the promoter of 
that union between East and West, which the liberal 
statesmen of England so ardently desired. 

The builders of these foundations of human liberty, 
with the union of East and West as the end kept always 
in view, were a noble group of men. Raja Ram Mohan 
Roy, Dwarkanath Tagore, Macaulay, Lord Bentinck, 
Alexander Duff, are names that would be celebrated 
in any age. They built strong outworks of social 
justice and had faith in the fundamental principles of 
morality and religion. They held no narrow views of 
human life. One story may be told of Ram Mohan 
Roy which brings vividly before us his passionate love 
of freedom and his devotion to the whole human race, 



regardless of country or religion. When he broke 
through the last bonds of orthodoxy as a high-caste 
Brahmin, and made his adventurous sea voyage round 
the Cape of Good Hope, the East Indian merchantman 
on which he had sailed from Calcutta anchored safe 
from the storms in Cape Town harbour. Not far 
away from him was another ship, at whose mast- 
head floated the tricolour of France the flag of 
the July Revolution by which despotism had been 
overthrown. In his eagerness to meet the officers who 
sailed under that flag of liberty, he asked for a boat 
to be lowered, that he might go aboard the French 
vessel in order to pay a tribute to the country which 
most of all had awakened freedom from its lethargy of 
ages. On his return to his own vessel an accident 
happened to him. He fell as he mounted the rope 
ladder and broke his leg. His own enthusiasm for 
France as the champion of human liberty never 
failed him. As he approached the shores of Eng- 
land he stated his intention, if the great Reform 
Acts were rejected by the British Parliament, to 
surrender his allegiance and retire to some country 
in his old age where liberty was honoured in deed as 
well as in word. 

Men of outstanding moral genius such as Raja 
Ram Mohan Roy are rare in human history, and he left 
no immediate successor to carry on the work of bind- 
ing India and Great Britain together in the common 
unity of mankind. But this ideal which he cherished 


has never been wholly lost sight of by the greatest 
Indian minds. It is the substance of Rabindranath 
Tagore's teaching to-day, and forms the basis of his 
own international university at Santiniketan. With 
Mahatma Gandhi also this true fellowship of man has 
been the final commanding principle which has ani- 
mated him throughout his adventurous life. It stands 
always in the background of his autobiography, which 
he has called Experiments with Truth. Arabinda Ghose, 
the great recluse, has also preached it from his retire- 

The period of the Indian Mutiny need not be dealt 
with at any length, though it left long and bitter 
memories behind it. 1 In no sense was it a popular 
revolt, except in small areas of the country. It was 
crushed with a ruthlessness of vengeance which dis- 
graced the name of a Christian Government, and this 
did far more harm to the cause of good will and mutual 
friendship than the bloodshed of the war itself. 

But the basal fact of the supreme need of closer 
relations between India and Great Britain began to 
reassert itself among thoughtful educated people. 
The story of the life-work of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, 
the Muhammadan leader, who founded the Anglo- 
Oriental College at Aligarh, illustrates this need from 

1 Professor E. J. Thompson's book The Other Side of the 
Medal has given for the first time a truthful documented 
narrative of what really took place. The accuracy of this book 
has never been challenged. 

i 129 


the side of Islam. He nobly overcame the resentment 
felt among the Musalmans in India, who had been 
made to suffer most after the Mutiny, and boldly 
grasped the hand of friendship that was offered from 
the British side. At Calcutta the meteoric figure of 
Brahmananda Keshub Chander Sen shone out brilli- 
antly for a time, and his magnetic personality attracted 
the West towards the East as no other individual had 
done since Raja Ram Mohan Roy. In a book which 
I have recently written, called Zaka Uttah of Delhi* 
I have tried to draw, with a full historical background, 
the picture of those times when India and Great 
Britain very gradually drew together in sympathy once 
more after the dark episode of the Mutiny was over. 
In that book it was my one object to show how fruitful 
this genuine meeting of East and West might become. 
For in Munshi Zaka Ullah of Delhi there was an 
almost perfect example of Eastern courtesy and learn- 
ing, and at the same time a liberal outlook upon the 
West, with an ardent search for truth and wisdom 
wherever it could be found. Nothing, it appeared to 
me, could be more important at the present time than 
the study of such outstanding characters in India, 
which win our reverence and love. 

Perhaps the greatest opportunity of cementing this 
revival of mutual good will between India and Britain, 
after the Mutiny had been forgotten, came to the 

* Zaka Ullah of Delhi, by C. F. Andrews, published by 
W. Heffer & Son, Ltd., Cambridge, 1929, 



British people during the last thirty years of the 
nineteenth century. For during those eventful and 
constructive years there was only a comparatively 
small group of Indian students coming over to study 
in this country; but among these were young men of 
brilliant promise, who were certain to rise to eminence 
in their own society after they had returned. The 
Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, together with 
the medical and law schools at Edinburgh and London, 
were the chief centres of learning to which they went 
for their studies. The affection from their side, which 
they were ready to offer, was lavish and open-hearted, 
if only there had been those on the British side ready 
to respond to it. 

Rabindranath Tagore and Mohandas Gandhi, who 
were both at different intervals in London during those 
crucial years, have told, us the story of their own 
loneliness in that vast modern city. Tagore, who was 
only seventeen years old when he came over from 
Calcutta in 1878, was shy and self-diffident; Gandhi, 
who arrived about ten years later, was equally retiring. 
Though they have both acknowledged small kindnesses 
done to them by humble, unknown English men and 
women, it is easy to trace in their writings the misery 
of isolation from which they suffered in a strange 
land. Some deeper touch of human sympathy might 
have done much for them at such a desolate time. 
But their experience in England was in this respect 
very disappointing. 


Yet in spite of all this, however dull, unimaginative 
and insular our home folk may have been in those days 
and on this side the British people have an obvious 
weakness there was not as yet any race or colour 
prejudice. On the contrary, there was a high sense 
of human freedom and a great liberal tradition. In 
Tagore's and Gandhi's own descriptions of their early 
life in London there is no mention at all of any bad 
racial treatment. That point never comes up. Insulting 
questions about race and colour were then practically 
unknown in England. It was a land of racial justice, 
and its ideals of political democracy were highly 
regarded by them in their younger days. 

One thing further needs to be made clear. Every 
student from India throughout this period owed a 
great debt to English literature. The love of freedom 
which runs through the English poets kindled their 
youthful imaginations. Scott and Dickens, Shakespeare 
and Milton, Shelley and Wordsworth, were all of them 
household names, loved and cherished as their very 
own. The Bible also, as great literature, was widely 
read and admired. 

It is easy for me vividly to recall the genuine delight 
shown by the elder brother of Rabindranath Tagore, 
even in his extreme old age, whenever he quoted from 
his favourite English authors. He had a simple, child- 
like nature. A more guileless and innocent old man it 
would have been impossible to meet. He was affec- 
tionately called by everyone alike, Borodada. 1 Although 
* Elder Brother. 


he was a very great philosopher and sage, deeply 
revered, the little children loved him as one of them- 
selves and made friends with him at first sight. Even 
the birds and squirrels would come and eat from his 
plate, or from his hand, as he sat on the veranda. 
As a follower and disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, he 
was an ardent non-co-operator. Thus he was politically 
opposed to the British Government, and in his own 
way even in his old age a fiery patriot. But, all the same, 
the English poets were very dear to him indeed. He 
never wished to non-co-operate with them or to boycott 
them. While reading their pages he still looked upon 
Great Britain with the old kindly eyes of a deep affec- 
tion. He had a special love for Scotland, because of 
his romantic devotion to Sir Walter Scott as a story- 
teller. But Shakespeare was to him the greatest author 
that England had ever produced, and even when 
non-co-operating he looked upon England through 
Shakespeare's eyes. 

Up to this point in iny argument it will be 
seen that Macaulay's ideal still held its own place 
in the historical development of India, chiefly because 
it was based on the truth, and therefore could not 
be wholly shaken, even though for a time the 
two countries, India and Great Britain, fell apart 
or came into conflict with each other. The need 
of India for the new life and culture of the 
West and the need of Great Britain for the material 
support and spiritual ideas which India could give 


from her Eastern standpoint helped to restore the link 
as soon as it was broken. During the last quarter of 
the nineteenth century, owing chiefly to Max Muller's 
remarkable work at Oxford, the greatness of Eastern 
civilization, and especially of Indian culture, became 
acknowledged by all right-thinking men. The advent 
of Swami Vivekananda to the West completed this 
remarkable triumph of Eastern thought, which Raja 
Ram Mohan Roy and Keshub Chander Sen had 
begun. The West for the first time in all its historical 
development, since the dawn of Christianity, began 
to look through Eastern eyes at mankind and the 
universe. It would almost seem as though intellectual 
fellowship would cement those bonds of good will 
between India and Great Britain for which the great 
liberal statesmen of England had so ardently striven. 


Even up to the recent era of the World War this 
sentiment of British liberty and justice remained quite 
strong in the minds of the older generation in India. 1 
It had never hitherto been seriously challenged by 
directly contrary facts. This accounts for the generous 
response to Great Britain's appeal to all Indians to 
take their part in the European War side by side 
with the British troops when Belgium was invaded. 
In those early days of the World War that conflict 
was regarded as the battle for human freedom against 
the militarism of the Central Powers. 

Rabindranath Tagore, though opposed on principle 
to war as inhuman, at first took up that position him- 
self with regard to the invasion of Belgium, considering 
it a grave injustice. He told me at the very time how 
he had Belgium in his mind when he wrote his 
celebrated poem, called The Boatman, wherein he 
pictures a lonely, desolate woman sitting in solitude 
beside her vanished home. Mahatma Gandhi also 
believed in the justice of the Allied cause, and offered 
again and again for active service as the organizer of 
an ambulance corps. He sustained this belief in the 
sincerity of the Allies right up to the end. 

But when towards the close of the war the shameful 
1 See Appendix I. 



treaties secretly made between the Allied Powers were 
brought to light, dividing the spoils, the more sordid 
aspect of the struggle became only too evident. This 
bargaining away of human lives for power, among 
those who professed themselves openly to be cham- 
pions of freedom, immediately brought with it a blow 
to that confidence in the justice of the British cause 
which had hitherto been almost unchallenged. At his 
request I went with Mahatma Gandhi to the War 
Conference in Delhi early in May, 1918, when the 
situation appeared most critical on both the Eastern 
and Western fronts, and there was some danger of the 
invasion of India from the north. Just before I reached 
Delhi I received by mail a copy of the Nation giving 
the full text of the secret treaties. This staggered me, 
and I showed it at once to Mahatma Gandhi. He went 
with it forthwith to the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford. 
The Viceroy told him that the genuineness of the 
documents was not yet proven, and that meanwhile 
it was necessary to get on with the war. Mahatma 
Gandhi accepted the Viceroy's position for the time 
being, but when afterwards the genuine character of 
the treaties was proved the shock of disillusionment 
was all the greater. 

Other shocks of the same kind followed. Germany 
was made to accept the Armistice on the ostensible 
basis of President Wilson's Fourteen Points; but when 
she was utterly defenceless, this basis was altered to 
the enforced signing of the most humiliating treaty 



ever offered to a great nation. This came as another 
terrible blow to the faith of Indian leaders in the 
righteousness of the Allied cause. Later still, one act 
followed another, disclosing the brutality of war itself 
in different ways. The name of Great Britain was 
dragged in the dust by crooked diplomacy, broken 
promises, and cynical appeals to force and force alone, 
as the one final arbiter between nations. The tragedy 
of Ireland added to the moral confusion. The climax 
of disillusionment came when a widely circulated book, 
disclosing the most flagrant falsehoods of British war 
propaganda and openly boasting of their cleverness, 
was read and quoted in India. After that, it was diffi- 
cult to maintain any credit for honour or integrity on 
the part of the belligerents. 

It has been necessary to recall these sordid things, 
which should otherwise be forgotten, because they 
have a very direct relation to the universal lack of 
trust which is felt in India towards Great Britain at 
the present time. They partly account for it and explain 
it. To those of us who were in India after the Armistice, 
during those months of war exhaustion and moral 
bankruptcy, it was a hard matter indeed to find out 
each moment how to act, how to speak, and what to 
leave undone and unsaid. For one moral principle after 
another was being surrendered by the Government in 
power in Great Britain. 

But the worst has yet to be told. For out of the same 
war mentality came the shooting in Jallianwala Bagh 


at Amritsar, and the "crawling order". These military 
excesses, and those that followed in the Punjab villages 
under martial law, represented an almost unbelievable 
lapse from what had always been regarded in India 
as a British standard of justice* They showed the old 
evil spirit still lingering on after the war was over. 

During these grim days, when brute force was 
allowed to break loose unchecked, I was present in 
Delhi; and later on in the Punjab I tried to enter the 
martial law area itself, but was deported. Also I was 
with the poet Rabindranath Tagore when he wrote 
his famous letter surrendering his knighthood. The 
mental agony that he suffered before he wrote that 
letter few can understand. Never in all my life have I 
passed through darker times than those. It seemed as 
though the whole moral fabric of society had been 
rent in twain by an earthquake shock. 

If we look carefully away from all the moral confusion 
of those times, in order to discover the exact point of 
stress where the final breach came and the gulf yawned 
widest, we shall see it most clearly in the racial arro- 
gance with which Europe faced the East. Great 
Britain in particular, along with the British Dominions, 
was in this regard the worst offender. The "crawling 
order" at Amritsar, already mentioned, had its poison- 
ous stab in the fact that it was racial. It was a brutal 
expression, brutally devised, of racial superiority 
enforced by military power. Its direct counterpart 
in a different sphere was seen in the League of 



Nations itself, when the way was finally blocked 
to the acceptance of Japan's resolution that racial 
equality should be included as one of the under- 
lying principles of the Covenant of the League. 
This, when combined with the "white" policy of 
Australia and Canada, and the hard, intransigent 
racialism of South Africa and Kenya, has made it 
exceedingly difficult for Indians who have any self- 
respect to remain in a Commonwealth that has really 
become a "white race" Empire. It is here, therefore, 
on this question of offensive racial treatment exercised 
upon an acutely sensitive people that the spirit of 
India has been most passionately stirred to open revolt. 
It is here also that almost every single educated Indian 
has had some painfully bitter personal insult to bear 
in his own life, owing to some racial incident happening 
to him in his own country at the hand of Europeans. 
For it has to be confessed with shame that in India 
itself the very same race prejudice is now present 
which we find in Kenya and South Africa. The form 
it takes may be less aggravated to-day, but the spirit 
of racial insolence survives. 1 

If the argument be used that in spite of all these 
untoward circumstances (which were mainly due to 
the brutality of war conditions) Great Britain showed 
her own good will to India in the Government of India 

* See Lieutenant-Colonel Osburn, D.S.O., Must We Lose 
India?, page 17. The whole book tells the same story at 
first hand. 


Act, of 1919-1921, whereby a reformed constitution 
of a liberal character was granted to India by Great 
Britain, and that no gratitude, but only ingratitude, 
was offered for such a signal boon, there are many 
answers which may be made from the Indian side. 

First of all, the "boon" theory, as I have already 
written, can never be accepted in India. "Swaraj 
(self-government) is my birthright" has been all along 
the motto of the national movement; and for the 
British to speak of "boons" is only to rouse useless 

Secondly, the Government of India Reform Act 
was an altogether half-hearted affair, based on the 
safeguarding of certain reserved subjects by keeping 
them strictly in official hands, that is to say, under 
British control. Everyone, including the Simon 
Commissioners, has agreed that this Dyarchy (as it was 
called) was unworkable. The Commissioners have 
therefore recommended that it should immediately 
be abandoned. For this reason there is no need to 
discuss it in this book. All that can be said in its favour 
has been well said in the Simon Report. 

Mahatma Gandhi has been widely regarded in 
Great Britain as unreasonable in his political demands. 
Yet even after the shooting at Amritsar in April 1919 
he proposed and carried with great difficulty at the 
National Congress of December 1919, when public 
national feeling was at its highest pitch of excitement, 
the acceptance of the Government of India Reform 


Act with a promise to work it with good will. He did 
this in spite of the fact that the majority of the Congress 
members were insistently demanding a boycott. He 
only carried this resolution for the acceptance of the 
Reform Act by the sheer weight of his moral person- 
ality. He actually got the National Congress to 
promise to try to work a constitution, the abandon- 
ment of which, as unworkable, has now been 
recommended by the Simon Commissioners. 

But after he had won this personal victory, the 
events of 1920 the half-hearted condemnation of 
General Dyer by the Hunter Commission, the actual 
condonation of his disgraceful act by the House of 
Lords, the breach of promise to the Turks by Mr. 
Lloyd George filled the cup of racial injustice to the 
full. Every thinking Indian felt that Great Britain had 
determined to favour her own race, even when it was in 
the wrong, and to keep India in racial subjection. For 
these reasons it was decided at last to non-co-operate, 
and the non-co-operation movement was started. 

After Mahatma Gandhi's release from prison in 
1924, which was followed by the gentle goodness of 
the doctors and nurses while he was ill at Poona, 
a kindlier human feeling grew up on both sides, and 
there seemed every prospect of a reconciliation. But 
the perpetual racial friction now in Kenya, now in 
South Africa, and yet again suddenly arising through 
some flagrant act of racial injustice elsewhere 
exacerbated the situation. A partial victory was gained 



in South Africa over some of the worst race prejudice 
in the world, owing to the winning and gracious 
personality of Srinavasa Sastri, whose pure human 
good will worked a miracle in that sub-continent. But 
the world trend of recent events has on the whole 
swung backwards rather than forwards. 

The most alarming feature of all is the undoubted 
fact that in Great Britain itself, where before there 
was hardly a sign of such an evil, the sudden ebullition 
of a race superiority complex has appeared on the 
surface of our social life which forebodes nothing but 
evil. When I have been in the company of Indian 
students in London and elsewhere I have been fre- 
quently told about this change of temper. What is 
sometimes called the "South African point of view" 
on the race question has been steadily gaining ground 
and making new converts. It has been the post-war 
mind, realistic and cynical, which has given it a 
foundation. It has penetrated the old Universities of 
Oxford and Cambridge, and has found an unwholesome 
lodgement in Edinburgh and London. 

Those Indian residents in this country who have 
been here for a long while have explained to me 
quite frankly that the more recent years since the 
World War have been the worst of all. In conversation 
with me they have often ascribed this development 
to the war itself and the brutalities which the war 
engendered. When I have heard from their own lips 
stories, faithfully told, concerning personal incidents 



which have happened to themselves it has been hard 
to realize that in Britain, which had prided herself 
hitherto on her freedom from race and colour preju- 
dice, such a profound change could have come about 
so suddenly and with so little care being taken to 
check it at its first onset directly after the war. I have 
been assured by Indians themselves that when simple 
hotel accommodation is needed by them, or even a 
simple meal at a public restaurant, sometimes the 
greatest difficulty is now experienced where in earlier 
years there would have been no difficulty at all. 
Distinguished Indians, whose names I know well but 
refrain from mentioning for obvious reasons, have 
thus been insulted. The gentlest people in the world 
and the most courteous have been thus rudely refused. 

All this would have been quite incredible to me in 
Great Britain before the European War, and it remains 
still very nearly unthinkable to-day, even though I 
have seen elsewhere what evil the war spirit could 
effect. But the facts, I am afraid, are now quite indis- 
putable, for I have tested them thoroughly. The 
farther I have gone into the matter the more disastrous 
the outlook has appeared for the future. 

It is now evident to me, and it seems to me neces- 
sary openly to state it, that entirely new opinions are 
being formed in this country on those crucial racial 
issues which most of all divide Great Britain and 
India. These new ideas, crudely formed but doggedly 
held, absolutely reject equality. They would thus make 



finally impossible any intimate friendly relation, 
within the same Commonwealth, of Indian and British 
people. They would imply perpetual subjection of one 
race to another. That same good will on equal terms 
which Macaulay contemplated a century ago is now 
definitely denied to Indians by many of Macaulay's 

With regard to these very startling developments, 
which are of comparatively recent growth in Great 
Britain, the churches in this country appear to give 
as yet only a timid and uncertain moral guidance. 
The elder statesmen of the British Commonwealth 
likewise hesitate when any direct issue is brought 
forward at an Imperial Conference. Yet it ought to be 
self-evident that upon this one issue, as far as India 
is concerned, there can be no compromise and no 
prevarication. There can be no playing fast and loose 
either in Church or State. A plain answer, yes or no, 
must be given to a plain question. 

What I have written may appear at first sight to have 
wandered far afield from the constitution-making 
character of the Simon Report as it looks out upon the 
future of India. But in reality every word of it is 
wrapped up with the main question, because one of 
the issues to be settled in the proposals which the 
Commissioners make is what place the British them- 
selves should occupy in the scheme of things during 
the time of transition. And this depends entirely on 
whether they are racially acceptable or racially not 



acceptable to the Indian people. If on account of 
increasing racial friction they are unacceptable, then, 
to put it bluntly, the sooner they retire the better. For, 
as Seeley has shown, it is the stupidest thing in the 
world that England should ever think that she can 
keep India within the British Empire by force. Die- 
hards of that temper who retain any such idea in their 
heads are suffering from a mental hallucination. 

If on the other hand the racial friction dies down and 
equality of status is in every sense of the word actively 
and openly acknowledged both in India and in Great 
Britain, then the whole question of the length of time 
required for transference of responsibility to Indian 
hands becomes much simpler. Mahatma Gandhi has 
said repeatedly that if a "change of heart" took place 
in the rulers he for one would welcome their presence 
in his own country as ministers and servants; but he 
would not have them remain a single day longer in 
the position of arrogant masters. 



There is one sonnet written by Michael Drayton in 
the great Elizabethan period of English literature that 
has often appealed to me as representing by analogy 
the strained relationship between England and India, 
which is to-day a part of the great controversy between 
East and West. 

What student of human history can fail to remem- 
ber the earlier days of last century, which I have 
recalled, when the West with its new liberty ushered 
in by the French Revolution was idealised by the 
greatest thinkers of the East? A generous, whole- 
hearted friendship, bordering on devoted love, was 
then offered freely to the West by the East. Men like 
Ram Mohan Roy and Keshub Chander Sen poured 
out their eloquent admiration in words that seem 
almost extravagant as we read them to-day. The West 
was to be the great Emancipator of the human race 
from every form of bondage ! 

But gradually, as the century advanced, the greed 
of material things and the ambition for fresh fields of 
conquest began to poison, like a canker in the bud, 
this incipient friendship. The East, disappointed and 
disillusioned, lost its earlier glow of enthusiasm. The 
bitterness of subjection took the place of the earlier 
rejoicing. The cold disdain of the West cut at the roots 



of the old affection and made its foliage wither. The 
twentieth century has witnessed a still further en- 
croaching of this haughty superiority of the West, 
with its rejection of any advance made towards 
equality. The hand of equal friendship offered by the 
East is rejected. At last the cry is raised : 

Since there's no help come let us kiss and part, 

Nay I have done, you get no more of me ; 
And I ana glad, yea, glad with all my heart 

That thus so cleanly I myself can free. 
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows, 

And when we meet at any time again, 
Be it not seen in either of our brows 

That we one jot of fonner love retain. 

The solemn monosyllables of these opening lines, like 
the tolling of a funeral bell, usher in the last six lines 
of the sonnet, where the disdain, in return for disdain, 
is broken by one last appeal. The majestic music 
passes on to its great conclusion: 

Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath, 
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies 

When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death 
And Innocence is closing up his eyes, 

Now if thou would'st, when all have given him over 

From death to life thou might'st him yet recover. 

Is it too much to hope that the last stanza may yet 
come true, and that at this last hour love's friendship 
based on true equality may return? 

The issues are so vast that the world-hope for 
humanity seems to depend upon this one factor. 


Nothing could be worse for mankind than the state 
of things to-day, where the West insists on treating 
the East as racially inferior and in a lower grade of 
civilization. No possible hope can come to fruition 
until this intolerable racial arrogance is abandoned. 
It is necessary to say this openly and without any 

But even after all this is acknowledged to the full 
much still remains to be done, and the step forward 
to meet the East must now come from the West; 
for it denotes a change of heart which to many at 
first sight will seem unpractical. In the end, however, 
it may be found not impossible to accomplish. 

The change is expressed in Christ's words which I 
have taken as a motto for this book : "The kings of the 
Gentiles do exercise lordship over them, and they that 
have authority over them are called Benefactors. But it 
shall not be so with you : but he that is greater among 
you let him be as the younger. . . , For I am among 
you as he that serveth". 

Is it possible to change the position of the British 
in India from that of lordship to that of service? The 
Anglo-Indian, as he was called, in the old days, was 
proud to be called Benefactor: but this went with a 
"lordship" which now must be entirely abandoned. 
Let me repeat the vital fact that Mahatma Gandhi 
himself has said that he has no wish to get rid 
of a single Englishman from India, if only he is 
willing to remain and serve instead of ruling. Since 


Gandhi uttered those words, he has never with- 
drawn them; and the principle of Ahimsa (or loving- 
kindness) which lies behind them is so fundamental 
with him that they may be said to form a part 
of his own inner spirit. Is it not possible in 
practice to realize such a change as this? Already in 
Iraq a half-way-house to this position of service has 
been discovered, which may illustrate what I mean. 
Under the new Treaty, Englishmen are to remain in 
an advisory capacity without any authoritative powers. 
The Government of Iraq is to use their counsel in this 
subsidiary manner. Something even further will be 
needed in India. There will be required in the future 
men and women from this country, or from any other 
Western nation, who will regard it as their greatest 
privilege in life to serve under Indians instead of 
directing them or ruling over them. 

The English correspondent from Bombay whom 
I have already quoted in this volume * writes: "As an 
Englishman I pray that we may rise to great heights." 
Personally, I have faith enough in my own fellow- 
countrymen to know that such an appeal as this is not 
impossible of realization. About the Indians them- 
selves this correspondent has written: "When men 
get to the state of delighting to go to prison for their 
convictions, then it is time something was done". On 
the moral plane, the Indian national volunteers have 
already risen to great heights. They have displayed an 
1 See chapter ii, p. 42. 



amazing moral fortitude. Surely the true meeting of 
East and West can be brought about on that plane! 
The often misquoted lines about the twain never 
meeting have this proviso added, that where two strong 
men meet face to face there is neither East nor West, 
but only a common humanity and a common respect 
for each other. The poet wrote those lines of his about 
physical strength; and it is quite easy for the English- 
man and the Pathan to respect that kind of courage. 
But what is needed from either side now is to respect 
a moral courage that requires far greater nerve than 
mere physical prowess. If the Englishman is able to 
show the moral courage of meekness and humility; 
if the Indian is able to show the moral courage of 
high fortitude and manly suffering without striking a 
blow; then, by rising to such heights as these, a higher 
friendship may be engendered. It will not be the old 
patronising friendship of the nineteenth century, but 
the equal friendship of the twentieth. It will mean that 
rare brotherhood and sisterhood which Walt Whitman 
has called "the dear love of comrades". 1 

* See Appendix VII and also V. 


Since it is important to understand sympathetically 
what the greatest Indian minds are thinking concerning 
the present situation, I have given here at some length 
two recent statements by Tagore and two others by 
Gandhi. They will throw much light on all that I 
have written. 

C. F. A. 


An interview was given to the Manchester Guardian 
by the poet Rabindranath Tagore, on Saturday, 
May 17, 1930. The poet said as follows: 

"When I was young, we were all full of admira- 
tion for Europe, with its high civilization and its 
vast scientific progress, and especially for England, 
which had brought this civilization to our own 
doors. We had come to know England through 
her glorious literature, which had brought a 
new inspiration into our young lives. The 
English authors, whose books and poems we 
studied, were full of love for humanity, justice, 
and freedom. 

"This great literary tradition had come down 
from the Revolution period. We felt its power in 
Wordsworth's sonnets about human liberty. We 
gloried in it even in the immature productions of 
Shelley, written in the enthusiasm of his own 
youth, when he declared against the tyranny of 
priestcrafts and preached the overthrow of all 
despotisms through the power of suffering bravely 

"All this fired our own youthful imaginations. 
We bejievd with $11 our simple faith that even if 


we rebelled against foreign rule we should have 
the sympathy of the West. We felt that Eng- 
land was on our side in wishing us to gain our 

"But during the interval that followed there 
came a rude awakening as to our actual relations. 
We found them at last to be those of force rather 
than freedom. This not only disturbed in a great 
measure our youthful dream; it also began to 
shatter our high idea concerning our English 
rulers themselves. We came to know at close 
quarters the Western mentality in its unscrupulous 
aspect of exploitation, and it revolted us more and 
more. During the present century, and especially 
since the European War, this evil seems to have 
grown still worse, and our bitterness of heart has 

"Those who live in England, away from the 
East, have now got to recognize that Europe has 
completely lost her former moral prestige in Asia. 
She is no longer regarded as the champion through- 
out the world of fair dealing and the exponent of 
high principle, but rather as the upholder of 
Western race supremacy and the exploiter of those 
outside her own borders. 

"For Europe it is, in actual fact, a great moral 
defeat that has happened. Even though Asia is 
still physically weak and unable to protect her- 
self from aggression where her vital interests 


are menaced, nevertheless, she can now afford 
to look down on Europe where before she 
looked up. 

"This new strained mental attitude carries with 
it tragic possibilities of long-continued conflict. 
The European nations, dimly realizing the danger 
of this growing alienation, still only think of 
artificial readjustments through various mechanical 
means. They merely talk of possibilities of the big 
Powers themselves combining for united action, 
forgetful of the fact that these very Powers are 
daily destroying world peace, for in their racial 
pride they altogether ignore the East. They do 
not realize that their blindness of arrogance and 
insistence on their own superiority must sooner 
or later involve both hemispheres in ruin. 

"In face of all this, which has become more and 
more apparent to me as I have grown old, I have 
often been asked in England to offer my opinion 
about what should be done at the present juncture 
when things have become so critical. My answer 
has always been that I do not believe in any 
external remedy where inner relations have been 
so deeply affected. For this reason, I cannot truly 
point to any short cut to win relief, or any easy 
remedy to heal the deep-seated disease. What is 
most needed is rather a radical change of mind and 
will and heart. 

"What I really believe in is a meeting between 


the best minds of the East and the West in order 
to come to a frank and honourable understanding, 
If once such an open channel of communication 
could be cut whereby sincere thought might flow 
freely between us, unobstructed by mutual jealousy 
and suspicion and unimpeded by self-interest and 
racial pride, then a reconciliation might be bridged 

"Meanwhile, let it be clearly understood in the 
West that we who are born in the East still acknow- 
ledge in our heart of hearts the greatness of the 
European civilization. Even when in our weakness 
and humiliation we aggressively try to deny this 
we still inwardly accept it. The younger generation 
of the East, in spite of its bitterness of soul, is 
eager to learn from the West, and to assimilate the 
best that Europe has to offer. Even in our futile 
attempts to sever our connection with the West, 
while we struggle for political freedom, we are 
really paying the West the highest compliment we 
can offer. For we acknowledge in the very act of 
striving for liberty the noble character of the 
Western education which has roused us from our 
slumbers. We tacitly admit that it was the literature 
of the West which inspired us with a courageous 
love of freedom and aroused us to proclaim our 

"The comparative immunity which we enjoyed 
in the past, together with large powers of freedom 


of speech all this quickened our courage and kept 
us free within. It should, therefore, be the anxious 
care as well as the proud privilege of Britain to 
maintain and foster the encouragement of that 
freedom. In spite of the trouble in which we are 
all involved at the present moment, England has 
to show herself broad-minded, upright, and con- 
ciliatory in her dealings with India to-day. 

"For it must be clearly understood in England 
that complications have now arisen which can never 
be done away with by repression and by a violent 
display of physical power. They can only be cured 
by some real greatness of heart which will attract 
in its turn a genuine spirit of co-operation from our 
side. Those who have experience of bureaucratic 
and irresponsible Governments can easily under- 
stand how the repressive measures which are being 
undertaken to-day, culminating in martial law at 
Sholapur, are bound to react upon our own people, 
for fear and panic always make a Government in 
power harsh and vindictive. Instances of this are 
well known in human history, and what is happen- 
ing to-day in India is not likely to be an exception 
to the general rule. . . . 

"The time will come when reparation will have 
to be made. Therefore, I trust and hope that the 
best minds of England will feel ashamed of every 
form of tyrannical action, just as we ourselves 
have been ashamed at the violence which has 


broken out on our side. We must on no account, 
if we can help it, find ourselves involved in a 
vicious circle wherein one violence leads on to 
another. For that in the end can only lead on to 
further bitterness and estrangement." 




The following is the substance of the message given 
by Rabindranath Tagore at the Yearly Meeting, in 
the Friends' House, London, on May 24, 1930: 

* 'India is being ruled by a complicated machine. 
The mechanics who drive it have a long training in 
power, but no tradition of human sympathy, which 
is superfluous in a workshop. They are incapable 
of understanding the living India owing to the 
natural mentality of bureaucracy, which simplifies 
its task and manages an alien race from a distance 
through various switches and handles and wheels 
and hardly ever through human touch. It produces 
perfect results so long as the subject race meekly 
behaves like dead material yielding to the machine- 
made law and order, offering no resistance when 
exploited. The people morally responsible for this 
flawlessly standardized rule lives across a far-away 
sea, satisfied at the unmurmuring silence brooding 
over a vast country at a peace which is uncreative 
like that of a barren waste and clings to a com- 
fortable faith in the man on the spot and to the 
proud privilege of a first-class power in the West. 

"In the meanwhile Europe's own quickening 


touch has gradually awakened the dormant life of 
India. But the machine manufactured over a 
century ago, in its stolid indifference still ignores it, 
and in a blind insensitive efficiency tries to make 
mincemeat of the newly risen humanity of India; 
for alas, it knows nothing better. The expert in the 
engine-room is indignant to find that the time- 
honoured system no longer produces law and order, 
and he becomes more and more red in the face and 
dangerously furious. 

"What Mahatma Gandhi had tried to do was to 
request the expert not to identify himself com- 
pletely with the machine, but to remember that he 
is also a man. For the sake of his human dignity he 
must not offer a stone to the other man who is 
famished for bread, and blows when he claims 
self-respect. This was asked not merely because it 
is not human, but also because it can never work. 

"I know at this moment there are thousands in 
my country who are suffering without any chance 
of redress, even those who do not deserve it. For 
the machine-government lets loose its fury of 
wholesale suspicion against risks which its blindness 
cannot define. But I hate to indulge in self-pity on an 
occasion like this. Conflicts between man and the 
machine have often happened in various shapes in 
human history. It is a desperate struggle, and man 
defeats the machine not always by his success but 
by his sufferings. 


"I deliberately use the word machine, for it is 
not your great people who is behind this fight. 
I myself have a firm faith in what is human in your 
nation, and the credit is yours for this very struggle 
for freedom that has been made possible to-day in 
India. The courage that has been aroused in our 
country the courage to suffer carries an uncon- 
scious admiration for your own people in its very 
challenge. For it cannot be a desperately physical 
challenge that madly rushes to an utter suicide in 
fighting against odds. At heart it is a moral challenge, 
being sure of a moral response in your mind when 
our claim is made real to you by our sufferings. 
Such sufferings have won your admiration. You 
secretly feel small by the enormities that you allow 
to be perpetrated in a state of panic upon a people 
who are no match for you in their power to return 
your blows adequately or retaliate your insults; 
for you cannot belie your real nature and all that 
has made you great. Being sure of it, Mahatma 
Gandhi had the temerity to ask you to take our 
side and help us to gain the greatest of all human 
rights, freedom, and to free yourself from the 
one-sided relationship of exploitation, which is 
parasitism, surely causing gradual degeneration in 
your people without your knowing it. 

"I have been asked whether we must have 
complete independence. In answer I say that there 
can be no absolute independence for man. Inter- 
L 161 


dependence is in his nature and it is his highest 
goal. All that is best in humanity has been achieved 
by mutual exchange of minds among peoples that 
are far apart, and is ever waiting for mutual enjoy- 
ment. This spirit must also come over man's 
politics, which for want of it is poisoned by envy 
and hatred and enveloped in a noxious atmosphere 
of falsehood and campaign of calumny, menacing 
peace at the least provocation. Let the best minds 
of the East and West join hands and establish a 
truly human bond of interdependence between 
England and India in which their interests may 
never clash, and they may gain an abiding strength 
of life through a spirit of mutual service without 
having to bear a perpetual burden of slavery on 
one side and a diseased responsibility on the other 
which is demoralizing. 

"In its relation to the eastern peoples the aspect 
of western character which has come uppermost is 
not only insulting to us but to the West itself. 
Nothing could have been more unfortunate in the 
history of man than this. For all meetings of men 
should reveal some great truth which is worthy of 
a permanent memorial, such as, for instance, had 
been the case of India's meeting with China in the 
ancient time. 

"At the moment when the West came to our 
door, the whole of Asia was asleep, the darkness of 
night had fallen over her life. Her lights were dim, 


her voice mute. She had stored up in her vaults her 
treasure, no longer growing. She had her wisdom 
shut in her books. She was not producing living 
thoughts or fresh forms of beauty. She was not 
moving forward but endlessly revolving round her 
past. She was not ready to receive the West in all 
her majesty of soul. The best in us attracts the 
best in others: our weakness attracts violence to 
our neighbourhood, as thinness in the air attracts 
a storm. To remain in the fulness of our manifesta- 
tion is our duty, not only to ourselves but for others. 
We have not seen the great in the West because we 
have failed to bring out the great that we have in 
ourselves, and we are deluded into thinking that 
we can hide this deficiency behind borrowed 
feathers. This is the reason why we claim freedom 
in order to find a real basis for interdependence. 
The usual form of spiritual expression that we 
find in the lives of the best individuals in western 
countries is their love of humanity, their spirit 
working through their character; their keen intel- 
lect and their indomitable will leagued together for 
human welfare. In their individuals it reveals itself 
in loyalty to the cause of truth for which so many 
of them are ready to suffer martyrdom, often 
standing heroically alone against some fury of 
national insanity. When their wide human interest, 
which is intellectual, takes a moral direction, it 
grows into a fulness of intelligent service of man 



that can ignore all geographical limits and racial 
habits of tradition. 

"But what is most unfortunate for us in Asia is 
the fact that the advent of the West into our con- 
tinent has been accompanied not only by science, 
which is truth and therefore welcome, but by an 
impious use of truth for the violent purpose of 
self-seeking which converts it into a disruptive 
force. It is producing in the countries with which 
it is in contact a diseased mentality that refuses 
moral ideals, considering them to be unworthy of 
those who aspire to be rulers of men, and who must 
furiously cultivate their fitness to survive. That 
such a philosophy of survival, fit for the world of 
tigers, cannot but bring a fatal catastrophe in the 
human world, they do not see. They become 
violently angry at those who protest against it, 
fearing that such a protest might weaken in them 
the animal that should be allowed to survive for 
eternity. Doctors know that infusion of animal 
blood into human veins does not give vigour to 
man but produces death, and the intrusion of the 
animal into humanity will never be for its survival. 
But faith in man is weakening even in the East; for 
we have seen that science has enabled the inhuman 
to prosper, the lie to thrive, the machine to rule in 
the place of Dharma. Therefore in order to save 
us from the anarchy of weak faith we must stand 
up to-day and judge the West. But we must guard 


against antipathy that produces blindness. We 
must not disable ourselves from receiving truth. 
For the West has appeared before the present-day 
world not only with her dynamite of passion and 
cargo of things but with her gift of truth. Until we 
fully accept it in a right spirit we shall never even 
discover what is true in our own civilization and 
make it generously fruitful by offering it to the 
world. But it is difficult for us to acknowledge the 
best in the western civilization and accept it, when 
we are humiliated. This has been the reason why 
the West has not yet come to our heart, why we 
struggle to repudiate her culture because we are 
under the dark shadow of a western dominance. 
We need freedom, we need a generous vigour of 
receptivity which the sense of self-respect can give 
to us, and then only the mission that Europe has 
brought to the world will find its fulfilment in our 
people, and India will also proudly join in the 
federation of minds in the present age of enlighten- 

"Let us, the dreamers of the East and the West, 
keep our faith firm in the Life that creates and not 
in the Machine that constructs in the power that 
hides its force and blossoms in beauty, and not in 
the power that bares its arms and chuckles at its 
capacity to make itself obnoxious. Let us know 
that the Machine is good when it helps, but not 
so when it exploits life; that Science is great when 



it destroys evil, but not when the two enter into 
unholy alliance. I believe in the individuals in the 
West; for on no account can I afford to lose my 
faith in Man. They also dream, they love, they 
intensely feel pain and shame at the unholy rites of 
demon worship that tax the whole world for their 
supply of bleeding hearts. In the life of these 
individuals will be wedded East and West; their 
lamps of sacrifice will burn through the stormy 
night along the great pilgrim tract of the future, 
when the names of the statesmen who tighten 
their noose round the necks of the foreign races 
will be derided, and the triumphal tower of skulls 
heaped up in memory of war-lords will have 
crumbled into dust." 

1 6$ 





"I wish that every Englishman may see this 
appeal, and give thoughtful attention to it. 

"Let me introduce myself to you. In my 
humble opinion no Indian has co-operated with 
the British Government more than I have for 
an unbroken period of twenty-nine years of 
public life in the face of circumstances that 
might well have turned any other man into 
a rebel. I ask you to believe me when I tell 
you that my co-operation was not based upon 
the fear of the punishments provided by your 
laws or any other selfish motives. It was free and 
voluntary co-operation, based on the belief that 
the sum-total of the British Government was for 
the benefit of India. I put my life in peril four 
times for the sake of the Empire ; at the time of the 
Boer War, when I was in charge of the Ambulance 
Corps whose work was mentioned in General 
Buller's despatches ; at the time of the Zulu Revolt 
in Natal, when I was in charge of a similar corps ; 
at -the time of the commencement of the late 


War, when I raised an ambulance corps, and as a 
result of the strenuous training had a severe attack 
of pleurisy; and, lastly, in fulfilment of my promise 
to Lord Chelmsford at the War Conference in 
Delhi, I threw myself in such an active recruiting 
campaign in Khaira District, involving long and 
trying marches, that I had an attack of dysentery 
which proved almost fatal. I did all this in the full 
belief that acts such as mine must gain for my 
country an equal status in the Empire. So last 
December I pleaded hard for a trustful co-operation. 
I fully believed that Mr. Lloyd George would 
redeem his promise to the Musalmans, and 
that the revelations of the official atrocities in 
the Punjab would secure full reparation for 
the Punjabis. But the treachery of Mr. Lloyd 
George and its appreciation by you, and the 
condonation of the Punjab atrocities, have com- 
pletely shattered my faith in the good intentions 
of the Government and the nation which is 
supporting it. 

"But, though my faith in your good intentions is 
gone, I recognize your bravery; and I know that 
what you will not yield to justice and reason you 
will gladly yield to bravery. 

"See what the British Empire means to India : 

"(i) Exploitation of India's resources for the 
benefit of Great Britain, 


"(2) An ever-increasing military expenditure and 
a Civil Service the most expensive in the 

"(3) Extravagant working of every Department 

in utter disregard of India's poverty. 
"(4) Disarmament and therefore emasculation of 

a whole nation lest an armed nation might 

imperil the lives of a handful of you in our 

"(5) Traffic in intoxicating drugs and liquors for 

the purpose of maintaining a top-heavy 

"(6) Progressively repressive legislation in order 

to suppress an ever-growing agitation 

seeking to express a nation's agony. 
"(7) Degrading treatment of Indians residing in 

British Dominions. 
"(8) Total disregard of our feelings by glorifying 

the Punjab Administration and flouting the 

Muhamrnadan sentiment. 

"I know you would not mind if we could fight and 
wrest the sceptre from your hands. You know we 
are powerless to do that ; for you have ensured our 
incapacity to fight in open and honourable battle. 
Bravery on the battlefield is thus impossible 
for us. Bravery of the soul still remains open to 






"I cannot prove my honesty to you if you 
do not feel it. Some of my Indian friends charge 
me with camouflage when I say that we need not 
hate Englishmen while we may hate the system that 
they have established. I am trying to show them 
that one may detest the wickedness of a brother 
without hating him. Jesus denounced the wickedness 
of the Scribes and Pharisees, but he did not hate 
them. He did not enunciate this law of love for the 
man and hate for the evil in man for himself only, 
but he taught the doctrines for universal practice. 
Indeed, I find it in all the Scriptures of the 

"I claim to be a fairly accurate student of human 
nature and vivisector of my own failings. I have 
discovered that man is superior to the system he 
propounds. And so I feel that you as an individual 
are infinitely better than the system you have 
evolved as a corporation. Each one of my country- 
men in Amritsar on that fateful April loth was 
better than the crowd of which he was a member. 
He as a man would have declined to kill those 
innocent bank-managers. But in that crowd many 
a man forgot himself. Hence it is that an English- 
man in office is different from an Englishman 
outside. Similarly an Englishman in India is 


different from an Englishman in England. Here in 
India you belong to a system that is vile beyond 
description. It is possible, therefore, for me to con- 
demn the system in the strongest terms, without 
considering you to be bad and without imputing 
bad motives to every Englishman. You are as much 
slaves of the system as we are. I want you, therefore, 
to reciprocate, and not to impute to me motives 
which you cannot read in the written word. I give 
you the whole of my motive when I tell you that 
I am impatient to mend or end a system which has 
made India subservient to a handful of you, and 
which has made Englishmen feel secure only in 
the shadow of the forts and the guns that obtrude 
themselves on one's notice in India. It is a degrading 
spectacle for you and for us. Our corporate life is 
based on mutual distrust and fear. This, you will 
admit, is unmanly. A system that is responsible 
for such a state of things is necessarily Satanic. 
You should be able to live in India as an integral 
part of its people, and not always as foreign 
exploiters. One thousand Indian lives against one 
English life is a doctrine of dark despair, and yet, 
believe me, it was enunciated in 1919 by the highest 
of you in the land. 

"I almost feel tempted to invite you to join me 
in destroying a system that has dragged both you 
and us down. But I feel that I cannot as yet do 
so. We have not shown ourselves earnest, self- 



sacrificing, and self-restrained enough for that 

"But I do ask you to help us in the boycott of 
foreign cloth and in the anti-drink campaign. The 
Lancashire cloth, as English historians have shown, 
was forced upon India, and her own world-famed 
manufacturers were deliberately and systematically 
ruined. India is therefore at the mercy, not only 
of Lancashire, but also of Japan, France, and 
America. Just see what this has meant to India. 
We send out of India every year sixty crores (more 
or less) of rupees for cloth. We grow enough cotton 
for our own cloth. Is it not madness to send cotton 
outside India, and have it manufactured into cloth 
there and shipped to us? Was it right to reduce 
India to such a helpless state ? 

"A hundred and fifty years ago we manu- 
factured all our cloth. Our women spun fine yarn 
in their own cottages, and supplemented the 
earnings of their husbands. The village weavers 
wove that yarn. It was an indispensable part of 
national economy in a vast agricultural country 
like ours. It enabled us in a most natural manner 
to utilize our leisure. To-day our women have 
lost the cunning of their hands, and the enforced 
idleness of millions has impoverished the land. 
Many weavers have become sweepers. Some have 
taken to the profession of hired soldiers. Half the 
race of artistic weavers has died out, and the other 


half is weaving imported foreign yarn for want of 
finer hand-spun yarn. 

"You will perhaps now understand what boycott 
of foreign cloth means to India. It is not devised as 
a punishment. If the Government were to-day to 
redress the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs, and 
consent to India attaining immediate Swaraj, the 
boycott movement must still continue. Swaraj 
means at the least the power to conserve Indian 
industries that are vital to the economic existence 
of the nation, and to prohibit such imports as may 
interfere with such existence. Agriculture and 
hand-spinning are the two lungs of the national 
body. They must be protected against consumption 
at any cost. 

"This matter does not admit of any waiting. 
The interests of the foreign manufacturers and the 
Indian importers cannot be considered, when tjie 
whole nation is starving for want of a large pro- 
ductive occupation ancillary to agriculture. 

"You will not mistake this for a movement of 
general boycott of foreign goods. India does not 
wish to shut herself out of international commerce. 
Things other than cloth which can be made better 
outside India, she must gratefully receive upon 
terms advantageous to the contracting parties. 
Nothing can be forced upon her. But I do not 
wish to peep into the future. I am certainly hoping 
that before long it will be possible for England to 



co-operate with India on equal terms. Then will 
be the time for examining trade relations. For the 
time being I bespeak your help in bringing about a 
boycott of foreign cloth. 

"Of similar and equal importance is the campaign 
against drink. The liquor shops are an insufferable 
curse imposed on society. There was never so 
much awakening among the people as now upon 
this question. I admit that here the Indian 
ministers can help more than you can. But I would 
like you to speak out your mind clearly on that 
question. Under every system of Government, as 
far as I can see, prohibition will be insisted on by 
the Nation. You can assist the growth of the 
ever-rising agitation by throwing the weight of 
your influence on the side of the Nation." 

Mr. Gandhi made a third appeal, through an interview, 
which he afterwards published: 

"My attitude", he said, "towards the English is 
one of utter friendliness and respect. I claim to be 
their friend, because it is contrary to my nature to 
distrust a single human being or to believe that 
any nation on earth is incapable of redemption. 
I have respect for Englishmen, because I recognize 
their bravery, their spirit of sacrifice for what they 
believe to be good for themselves, their cohesion, 
and their powers of vast organization. My hope 



about them is that they will at no distant date 
retrace their steps, revise their policy of exploitation 
of undisciplined and ill-organized races, and give 
tangible proof that India is an equal friend and 
partner in the British Commonwealth to come. 

"Whether such an event will ever come to pass 
will largely depend upon our own conduct. That is 
to say, I have hope of England because I have hope 
of India. We shall not for ever remain disorganized 
and imitative. Beneath the present disorganization, 
demoralization, and lack of initiative I can discover 
organization, moral strength, and initiative forming 
themselves. A time is coming when England will 
be glad of India's friendship, and India will disdain 
to reject the proffered hand because it has once 
despoiled her. I know that I have nothing to offer 
in proof of my hope. It is based on an immutable 
faith. And it is a poor faith that is based on proof 
commonly so-called." 



The following is the full text of Mr. Gandhi's letter 
which he wrote to the Viceroy before beginning his 
civil disobedience : 


"Now before embarking on civil disobedi- 
ence and taking a risk I have dreaded to take all 
these years, I would fain approach you and find a 
way out. My personal faith is absolutely clear. 
I cannot intentionally hurt anything that lives, 
much less fellow human beings, even though they 
may do the greatest wrong to me and mine. While, 
therefore, I hold the British rule to be a curse, 
I do not intend to harm a single Englishman 
or any legitimate interest he may have in India. 
I must not be misunderstood. Though I hold 
British rule in India to be a curse, 1 do not, there- 
fore, consider Englishmen in general to be worse 
than any other people on earth. I have the privilege 
of claiming many Englishmen as my dearest friends. 
Indeed, much that I have learnt of the evil of 
British rule is due to the writings of frank and 
courageous Englishmen who have not hesitated to 
tell the unpalatable truth about that rule. 


"And why do I regard British rule as a curse? 
It has impoverished the dumb millions by a 
system of progressive exploitation and by the 
ruinously expensive military and civil administra- 
tion which the country can never afford. It has 
reduced us politically to serfdom. It has sapped 
the foundations of our culture and by the policy 
of disarmament it has degraded us spiritually. 
Lacking inward strength, we have been reduced by 
all but universal disarmament to a state bordering 
on cowardly helplessness. 

"In common with many of my countrymen I 
had hugged the fond hope that the proposed 
Round Table Conference might furnish a solution, 
but when you said plainly that you could not give 
any assurance that you or the British Cabinet would 
pledge yourselves to support a scheme of full 
dominion status, the Round Table Conference could 
not possibly furnish the solution for which vocal 
India is consciously, and the dumb millions uncon- 
sciously, thirsting. Needless to say there never 
was any question of Parliament's verdict being 
anticipated* Instances are not wanting of the 
British Cabinet, in anticipation of a parliamentary 
verdict, having pledged itself to a particular policy. 
The Delhi interview having miscarried, there was no 
option for Pandit Motilal Nehru and me but to take 
steps to carry out the solemn resolution of the Con- 
gress arrived at in Calcutta at its session of 1928. 

M 177 


"But the resolution of independence should 
cause no alarm if the word 'dominion status' men- 
tioned in your announcement has been used in its 
accepted sense; for, has it not been admitted by 
responsible British statesmen that dominion status 
is a virtual independence? What, however, I fear, 
is that there never has been any intention of 
granting such dominion status to India in the 
immediate future. But this is all past history. 
Since the announcement many events have hap- 
pened which show unmistakably the trend of 
British policy. It seems as clear as daylight that 
responsible British statesmen do not contemplate 
any alteration in British policy that might adversely 
affect Britain's commerce with India or require 
impartial and close scrutiny of Britain's transactions 
with India. 

"If nothing is done to end the process of exploita- 
tion, India must be bled with ever-increasing speed. 
The Finance Member regards as a settled fact 
that is. 6d. ratio which by a stroke of the pen 
drains India of a few crores, and when a serious 
attempt is being made, through a civil form of 
direct action to unsettle this fact, among many 
others, even you cannot help appealing to the 
wealthy landed classes to help you to crush that 
attempt in the name of the order that grinds India 
to atoms. Unless those who work in the name of 
the nation understand and keep before all con- 


cerned the motive that. lies behind the craving for 
independence, there is every danger of independence 
itself coming to us so charged as to be of no value 
to those toiling, voiceless millions for whom it is 
sought, and for whom it is worth taking. It is for 
that reason that I have been recently telling the 
public what independence should really mean. Let 
me put before you some of the salient points. 

"The terrific pressure of land revenue which 
furnishes a large part of the total revenue must 
undergo considerable modification in independent 
India. Even the much-vaunted permanent settle- 
ment benefits of a few rich Zemindars, not Ryots. 
The Ryot has remained as helpless as ever. He is a 
mere tenant at will. Not only, then, has land revenue 
to be considerably reduced, but the whole revenue 
system has to be so revised as to make the Ryot's 
good its primary concern. But the British system 
seems to be designed to crush the very life out of 
him. Even the salt he must use to live is so taxed 
as to make the burden fall heaviest on him if only 
because of the heartless impartiality of its incidence. 
The tax shows itself still more burdensome on the 
poor man when it is remembered that salt is the 
one thing he must eat more than the rich men 
both individually and collectively. The drink and 
drug revenue too is derived from the poor* It saps 
the foundations both of their health and their 
morals. It is defended under the false plea of 



individual freedom. But in reality it is maintained 
for its own sake. The ingenuity of the authors of 
the Reforms of 1919 transferred this revenue to the 
so-called responsible part of Dyarchy so as to 
throw the burden of prohibition on it, thus from 
the beginning rendering it powerless for good. If 
the unhappy minister wipes out this revenue, he 
might starve education since in the existing circum- 
stances he has no new source of replacing that 
revenue. If the weight of taxation has crushed the 
poor from above, the destruction of the central 
supplementary industry, i.e. hand-spinning, has 
undermined their capacity for producing wealth. 

"The tale of India's ruination is not complete 

without a reference to the liabilities incurred in her 

name. Sufficient has been recently said about these 

in the public Press. It must be the beauty of a 

free India to subject all liabilities to the strictest 

investigation and repudiate those that may be 

adjudged by an impartal tribunal to be unjust and 

unfair. The iniquities sampled above are maintained 

in order to carry on a foreign administration, 

demonstrably the most expensive in the world. 

Take your own salary. It is over Rs. 21,000 per 

month, besides many other indirect additions. 

The British Prime Minister gets 5,000 per year, 

a little over Rs. 5,400 per month at the present 

rate of exchange. You are getting over Rs.yoo 

per day against India's average income of less than 


2 annas per day. The Prime Minister gets Rs. 180 
per day against Great Britain's average income of 
nearly 2 rupees a day. Thus you are getting much 
over five thousand times India's average income. 
The British Prime Minister is getting only ninety 
times Britain's average income. On bended knee 
I ask you to ponder over this phenomenon. I have 
taken a personal illustration to drive home the 
painful truth. I have too great a regard for you as 
a man to wish to hurt your feelings. I know that 
you do not need the salary you get. Probably the 
whole of your salary goes for charity. But the 
system that provides for such an arrangement 
deserves to be summarily scrapped. What is true 
of Viceregal salary is generally true of the whole 
administration. A radical cutting down of revenue 
therefore depends upon an equally radical reduction 
in the expenses of th administration. This means a 
transformation of the scheme of government. This 
transformation is impossible without independence. 
Hence in my opinion the spontaneous demonstration 
of January 26th in which hundreds of thousands of 
villagers instinctively participated. To them in- 
dependence means deliverance from a killing weight. 
"Not one of the great British political parties, 
it seems to me, is prepared to give up the Indian 
spoils to which Great Britain helps herself from 
day to day often in spite of the unanimous opposi- 
tion of Indian opinion. Nevertheless, if India is to 



live as a nation, if slow death by starvation of her 
people is to stop, some remedy must be found of 
immediate relief. The proposed conference is 
certainly not the remedy. It is not a matter of 
carrying conviction by argument. The matter 
resolves itself into one of matching of forces. 
Conviction or no conviction, Great Britain would 
defend her Indian commerce and interests by all 
the forces at her command. India must consequently 
evolve force enough to free herself from that 
embrace of death. 

"It is common knowledge that, however dis- 
organized and for the time being insignificant it may 
be, the party of violence is gaining ground and 
making itself felt. Its end is the same as mine, but 
I am convinced that it cannot bring the desired 
relief to the dumb millions, and the conviction is 
growing deeper and deeper in me that nothing but 
unadulterated non-violence can check the organized 
violence of the British Government. Many think 
non-violence is not an active force. My experience, 
limited though it undoubtedly is, shows non- 
violence can be an intensely active force. It is my 
purpose to set in motion that force as well against 
the organized violent force of British rule as 
against the unorganized violent force of the growing 
party of violence. To sit still would be to give 
rein to both the forces above mentioned. Having 
unquestioningly an immovable faith in the efficacy 
1 8* 


of non-violence as I know it, it would be sinful on 
my part to wait any longer. This non-violence will 
be expressed through civil disobedience, for the, 
moment confined to the inmates of the Satyagraha 
Ashram, but ultimately designed to cover all those 
who choose to join the movement with its obvious 
limitation. I know in embarking on non-violence 
I shall be running what might fairly be termed a 
mad risk, but the victories of truth have never been 
won without risks, often of the gravest character. 
The conversion of a nation that has consciously 
or unconsciously preyed upon another far more 
numerous, far more ancient, and no less cultured 
than itself, is worth any amount of risk. I have 
deliberately used the word conversion. For my 
ambition is no less than to convert the British 
people, through non-violence, and thus make them 
see the wrong they have done to India. I do not 
seek to harm your people. I want to serve them, 
even as I want to serve my own. 

"When my eyes were opened and I conceived 
the idea of non-co-operation my object still was 
to serve them. I employed the same weapon that 
I have in all humility successfully used against the 
dearest members of my family. If I have an equal 
love for your people with mine it will not long 
remain hidden. It will be acknowledged by them 
even as the members of my family acknowledged it 
after they had tried me for several years. If people 



join me as I expect they will, the sufferings they 
will undergo unless the British nation sooner 
retraces its steps, will be enough to melt the 
stoniest hearts. The plan through civil disobedience 
will be to combat such evils as I have sampled out. 
If we want to sever the British connection, it is 
because of such evils. When they are removed the 
path becomes easy. Then the way to friendly 
negotiation will be opened. If British commerce 
with India is purified of greed you will have no 
difficulty in recognizing our independence. 

"I respectfully invite you, then, to pave the way 
for the immediate removal of those evils and thus 
open the way for a real conference between equals 
interested only in promoting the common good of 
mankind through voluntary fellowship, and in 
arranging the terms of mutual help and commerce 
equally suited to both. 

"You have unnecessarily laid stress upon the 
communal problems that unhappily affect this land. 
Important though they undoubtedly are for the 
consideration of any scheme of government, they 
have little bearing on the greater problems which 
are above communities and which affect them all 
equally. But, if you cannot see your way to deal 
with these evils and my letter mates no appeal to 
your heart, on the eleventh day of this month 
I shall proceed with such co-workers of the ashram 
as I can take to disregard the provisions of the salt 


laws. I regard this tax to be the most iniquitous of 
all from the poor man's standpoint. As the inde- 
pendence movement is essentially for the poorest 
in the land, a beginning will be made with this evil. 
The wonder is, we have submitted to the cruel 
monopoly for so long. It is, I know, open to you to 
frustrate my design by arresting me. I hope there 
will be tens of thousands ready in a disciplined 
manner to take up the work after me and in the 
act of disobeying the Salt Act, lay themselves open 
to the penalties of the law that should never have 
disfigured the statute book. 

"I have no desire to cause you unnecessary 
embarrassment or any at all so far as I can help. 
If you think there is any substance in my letter, 
and if you will care to discuss matters with me 
and if to that end you would like me to postpone the 
publication of this letter, I shall gladly refrain on 
receipt of a telegram to that effect soon after this 
reaches you. You will, however, do me the favour 
not to deflect me from my course unless you can 
see your way to conform to the substance of this 
letter. This letter is not in any way intended as a 
threat, but is a simple and sacred duty peremptory 
on the civil resister. Therefore, I am having it 
specially delivered by a young English friend who 
believes in the Indian cause and is a full believer 
in non-violence and whom Providence seems to 
have sent to me as it were for this very purpose." 



The following narrative was told by Miss Slade 
(Mirabehn) concerning Mahatma Gandhi's secretary, 
Mahadev Desai, whom she visited in prison, after his 
arrest as a passive resister : 

"And now Mahadev arrived. A little pale and 
worn-looking, but full of spirit and good humour. 
After some talk he turned to me. 'There is an 
incident 5 , he said, 'which occurred on my way to 
jail, which I must tell you about. 

" 'The trial was over, and I was put into the 
prison van. On the back of the van was an English 
sergeant. There was a huge crowd all round. 
Suddenly a stone was thrown from somewhere, 
and it hit the sergeant on the chin, giving him a 
nasty cut. "Ugh!" exclaimed the man, catching 
the stone as it fell from his face. "See what your 
wretched people do ! If they stuck to non-violence 
we could have nothing to say. But look at this 
behaviour! People who can't be non- violent had 
better keep out of this movement, or they will soon 
spoil it." I hastily expressed my sorrow/ continued 
Mahadev, 'and told him that if he would stop the 
van, I would speak to the crowds and make them 
thoroughly ashamed of themselves. "No, I can't 



stop the van," said the sergeant and again he 
began to complain of the affair. "But what can I 
do shut up in this van?" I said. "I can only assure 
you I am extremely pained at the incident, and I 
would gladly atone for it. Hit me with the stone 
it will be good," I added. "No, no!" said the 
sergeant, beginning to melt. But after a little he 
again began to get sore on the subject. "Ugh, see 
what wretched things the people are doing 
look at Peshawar why can't such people keep out 
of the movement?" "Yes," I replied with deep 
feeling, and we began to converse about Bapu and 
the general situation. 

" 'But once more he looked at the stone that 
was in his hand and remarked: "I shall keep this 
as a memento." "No, please don't do that," I said. 
"If you have any belief in the sincerity of my 
sorrow, you will throw it away." This suddenly 
touched his heart, and then and there he flung it 
from him ! 

" *We were now passing by the Ashram. "See, 
there's my house," I said, pointing it out to him. 
"That's nice," he replied, "I have never seen the 
Ashram. When you come out of prison I must 
come and visit you." "Yes, do," I said, "I should 
be delighted. And perhaps now you would give me 
your name, that I may keep it with me." "Yes, 
certainly, but I've not got a pencil to write it down 
with," he remarked. "Here is my pen," I replied, 



handing it to him through the wire netting. He 
wrote down his name and was about to hand back 
the pen through the netting. "No, please keep the 
pen," I said, "it will be a nice memento, and how 
much better than the stone!" He was deeply 
touched, and with appreciation put the little 
souvenir away in his pocket. 

" 'We parted the very best of friends/ concluded 
Mahadev, his face beaming with delight." 


"As a piece of analysis, its finely meshed structure 
could hardly be bettered. Its argument is closely knit, 
its logical power superb. Everything is there save an 
understanding of the Indian mind. Nationalism gets a 
polite paragraph at the end, written as a half-dubious 
peroration. Gandhi, who has set half India aflame with 
new dreams, is dismissed as an administrative inci- 
dent of which the significance is never seen. You 
cannot deal with the hopes of a people as though 
they were studies in logic." 

Daily Herald, July 19, 1930. 
1 88 



The following poem by Walt Whitman is referred to 
in the closing words of this chapter: 

"I hear it was charged against me that I sought to 

destroy institutions, 

But really I am neither for nor against institutions, 
(What indeed have I in common with them? or 

what with the destruction of them?) 
Only I will establish in the Mannahatta and in 

every city of these States inland and seaboard, 
And in the fields and woods, and above every keel 

little or large that dents the water, 
Without edifices or rules or any argument, 
The institution of the dear love of comrades." 



Africa, South, 28 
Ahimsa, 21, 53, etc. 
Ahmad Khan, Sir Syed, 129 
Ahmed, Nazir, 109 
Alexander, Horace, 7 
Alexander, Olive, 7 
Angell, Norman, 83 
Asia, 1 6, etc. 
Assam, 48 
Australia, 71 

Behar, 46, 47 
Bengal, 58 
Bentinck, Lord, 127 
Birkenhead, Lord, 31, 33, 34, 

35, etc. 
Bombay, 52 
Borodada, 132 
Botha, General, 33 
Brahmo Samaj, 35 
Britain, Great, 23, 24, 25, 28, 

29, etc. 

Cambridge Mission, 115 

Canada, 71 

Chandpur, 62 

China, 162 

Commissioners, Simon, 12, 16, 

Cyrenaica, 83 

Das, C. R., 58 

Delhi, New, 41 

Deshbandhu, 58, etc. 

Dickens, 132 

Duff, Alexander, 127 

Dutch, 43 

Dyer, General, 141 


Egypt, 83 
Ellis, Mrs., 17 
England, 23, etc. 

Franciscan Movement, 43, 44 
French, 57 

French Revolution, 83 
Friends, Society, 159 

Gandhi, Mahatma, 9, n, 12, 

13, 15, 19, etc. 
Gandhism, 42 
Garibaldi, 57 
George, Lloyd, 141 
Ghose, Arabinda, 17, 129 
Gokhale, G. K., 112, 119, etc. 
Gujarat, 42, 45, etc. 
Gurudeva, 16, 21 

Hindus, 33, 49, etc. 
Humphreys, Mr., 105 

India, 19, 24, 25, 26, etc. 

India, Young, 40 

Indian Christians, 41, 49, 50, 


Indian Social Reformer, 56 
Iraq, 149 
Irish Free State, 63 

Jallianwala Bagh, 137 
Juhu, 49 

Kasturbai, 49 
Kenya, 139, 141 
Keshub Chander Sen, 130 
Khaira, 168 


Lajpat Rai, 105 
Laski, Harold, 188 
Lawrence, Sir H., 71, 125 
Lee Commission, 32 

Macaulay, 126, 127, etc. 
Macdonald, Ramsay, 69 
Madras, 61, 74 
Mahadev Desai, 186, etc. 
Malabar, 101 
Milton, 28 
Morley, Lord, 95 
Muhammadans, 33, etc. 

Natarajan, Mr. K., 56 
National Congress, 61, 63, etc. 
Nazareth, 115 
Nehru, Jawaharlal, 55, etc. 
Nehru, Motilal, 55 

Opposition, Leader of, 66, 67, 


Orissa, 59, 61, etc. 
Osburn, Lieut.-Col., 93, 93, 139 
Oxford, 131 

Palestine, 83 

Prime Minister, 66 

Punjab, 169 

Puma Swaraj, 21, 53, etc. 

Reform Constitution, 81 

Ripon, Lord, 112 

Roberts, Charles, 96 

Roy, Ram Mohan, 127, 128, etc. 

Ruhr, 57 

Salt Act, 185 

Sapru, Sir Tej Bahadur, 14, 

Sastri, Srinavasa, 85 

Saxons, 92 

Scotland, 23 

Scott, Sir Walter, 132, 133 

Seeley, Sir John, 89, 90, etc. 

Setalvad, Sir C., 85 

Shankarlal Banker, 56 

Sholapur, 157 

Simla, 71 

Simon Commission, 19, 32, etc. 

Simon Report, 74, 82, etc. 

Simon, Sir John, 32, etc. 

Skeen Commission, 32 

Smuts, General, 33 

Sobhani Urnar, 56 

Spectator, 42 

Syria, 83 

Syrian Church, 101 

Tagore, Dwarkanath, 127 
Tagore, Rabindranaih, 14, 19, 

2i 153, 159, etc. 
Telegraph, Daily, 56 
Thompson, Prof. E. J., 129 
Tokyo, 14 
Tunis, 83 

Viceroy, 34, 35, etc. 

Walsh, Rt. Rev., 63 
Whitehall, 71 
Whitman, Walt, 189 
Wilson, President, 136 

Yeaxlee, Basil, 17 
Youth League, 13, etc. 

Zaka, UUah, 109